"The ministry expressed a fundamental disagreement with the politically motivated step of the Belarusian regime, making a false claim of a bomb threat claim that jeopardized the safety of more than 170 passengers, including European Union citizens", said Juraj Tomaga, spokesperson of the ministry, as quoted by the TASR newswire. It said passengers were allowed to embark after around five hours and that the plane was expected to take off around 7 p.m. local time.
"I have become wary of going to Belarus again after this plane case", said one Belarusian, a former opposition activist who has lived in Russian Federation for several years and insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who dubbed the illegal diversion in a statement as "a shocking act". "There may be other measures (...) I am considering a measure that should be discussed at the European and worldwide levels, which is the banning of Belarusian airspace, which is a punitive measure", the French Minister of State for European Affairs Clement Boone said on RMC Radio.
For some commentators, the Belarusian president's newfound dependence on Moscow implicates the Kremlin in the arrest of Roman Protasevich.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told broadcaster RTE that the episode "reflects growing authoritarianism across the world". Since the disputed vote, authorities rounded up thousands of his opponents, with all major opposition figures now in jail or exile.
An unacceptable enforced landing of a commercial plane breaches global travel and requires a strong response.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier said it amounted to a "hijacking", while Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called it a "state-sponsored terror act".
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said it was "yet another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all opposition voices". Lukashenko is the first and only president of Belarus, in power since 1994, longer than Protasevich, 26, has been alive.
Police cracked down hard, detaining around 30,000 people with many suffering beatings while they were in custody.
"It is unacceptable to re-route a Ryanair flight full of civilians from landing in Vilnius into a forced landing in Minsk", he said.
"It was intercepted, there was a warning given to the pilots and crew that there was a security risk on board and then the plane was escorted by a military jet to Minsk airport, which was not the closest airport". There were contradictory reports of exactly what happened.
The press service of Lukashenko said the president himself ordered that a fighter jet accompany the plane after he was informed of the bomb threat.
The leaders of the 27 member states will also consider widening the list of Belarussian individuals they already sanction and call on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to urgently investigate Sunday's incident, when Belarus forced a Ryanair plane to land.
Pratasevich, shown arriving for a court hearing in Minsk in 2017, was detained Sunday after the plane he was on was diverted to the Belarusian capital.
An opposition Telegram channel Nexta also reported that the plane was searched.
A report released by Freedom House earlier this year found that there had been 608 cases of "direct, physical ... transnational repression" since 2014, which the organization defines as including state-sponsored assassinations, abductions and assaults that took place across worldwide borders.
"We believe there were some (Belarusian security agency) KGB agents offloaded at the airport as well".
Nikos Petalis, who lives in Lithuania and was returning from holidays in Greece, said passengers other than Protasevich were calm.
"I saw this Belarusian guy with girlfriend sitting right behind us. A MiG-29 took off and escorted it to Minsk", he said.
Mr Michel in a separate statement called for Protasevich to be released. A number of other passengers did not return when the plane was released for take off. "They see now who they are dealing with".
He co-founded the online news service called Nexta, based in Poland, which Belarus previous year declared as extremist after it was used to help organise major protests against Mr Lukashenko.
Lukashenka and the Putin regime that supports him seem to feel impunity, based on the belief that Europe and the United States are too distracted to respond.
He faces a sentence of up to 15 years in Belarus.