New Zealand has added almost seventy people to a travel ban in connection to Belarusian government behind the 23 May Ryanair incident, in which a plane was diverted to Minsk.
This comes as the US Transportation Department finalised an order to block airlines from selling tickets between the United States and Belarus.
The order, which was requested by the State Department, bars airlines from selling tickets for travel between the two countries, with exceptions only for humanitarian or national-security reasons. The ban proposed last week passed with no objections. There are no direct passenger flights between the US and Belarus.
These latest travel sanctions are connected to the forced landing of a passenger jet to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist in Minsk.
New Zealand has added fourteen individuals to an existing 17 June travel ban in connected to election fraud and human rights abuses during Lukashenko's 2020 election.
Foreign Affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said those on the travel ban include the Belarusian President and members of the electoral commission and security forces.
A spokesperson for MFAT said the latest individuals affected by the travel ban include "seven political leaders and senior officials involved in the Ryanair incident."
At the time minister Mahuta expressed "strong concern about the forced landing of a Ryanair plane on 23 May and the arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega."
The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, was forced to land in Minsk, where Belarusian authorities removed Protasevich from the plane and arrested him. He faces a possible 15-year prison term.
New Zealand joins calls by internatinoal partners including the US for an investigation into this incident by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
MFAT's safe travel service is not issuing a specific travel advisory for Belarus at this time additional to general advice not to travel overseas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- With additional AP reporting