EU to ban Belarus overflights - diplomats

The European Union is banning Belarus airlines from flying over EU territory or landing in any of its airports.

That's according to three diplomats on Friday, and comes as part of broader economic sanctions -

all it retaliation for the Irish airline incident last month, when Belarus authorities forced the landing of a Ryanair flight carrying an opposition journalist...

... and the government's crackdown on protests following a contested election last year.

The EU also strongly recommended that EU airlines avoid flying over Belarus,

but it did not go as far as a legally binding ban.

Around 400 civilian planes usually fly over Belarus every day, according to air traffic agency Eurocontrol.

A slate of carriers that have already announced they would stop flying over Belarus - including Lufthansa, SAS and Air France.

Meanwhile, the detained journalist at the center of the saga - Roman Protasevich - appeared on state television on Thursday.

He tearfully confessed to his role in anti-government protests -

in an interview which the opposition said was made under duress.

Protasevich admitted to plotting to topple President Alexander Lukashenko -

by organizing "riots" and recanted earlier criticism of the veteran leader.

Lukashenko's office did not immediately respond to comment on the accusations.

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