Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Belarus has earned the nickname of the “last dictatorship in Europe”. The country has certainly been living up to that nickname over the past year, fixing elections and locking up dissidents, some of whom – it is reported – are tortured while in detention. But on Sunday it took the outrageous step of forcing a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania to land instead at its capital Minsk, claiming a “bomb threat”.

Once the flight had landed, two of its passengers were detained by Belarusian security: one, Roman Protasevich, is a prominent dissident journalist and blogger who had been living in exile in Poland. The other, his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega, is a law student. As yet, it is unknown what is likely to happen to Protasevich in Belarus, but ominously the authorities there say he is in hospital with a “heart condition”, similar to another Belarusian dissident who died in custody last weekend. However the manner of his detention breaks a host of international and human rights laws. The EU has already issued sanctions against Belarus, including banning its flights from European airspace. There is also mounting pressure on the UK to act.

Meanwhile, here are five satellite images that show us how much – and how quickly – Earth is changing. And tomorrow, people in the UK will be able to see a super blood Moon. You can read all about it here.

Weeks like this bring home to us all the importance of expert knowledge and opinion. But we can’t do it without you. In the final week of our campaign, do take the opportunity to make a donation so we can continue to grow. And a huge thank you to the many people who have already dug deep to help.

Jonathan Este

Associate Editor, International Affairs Editor

Thorn in Lukashenko’s side: Roman Protasevich arrested at a rally in Minsk, March 2017. EPA-EFE/Tatyana Zenkovich

Roman Protasevich: dissident Belarus journalist whose defiance enraged Europe’s last dictator

Jennifer Mathers, Aberystwyth University

Fears grow for the young dissident journalist after he was taken off a Ryanair flight.

Stocktrek Images, Inc. / Alamy

Five satellite images that show how fast our planet is changing

Jonathan Bamber, University of Bristol

Earth observation satellites can measure millimetre changes in sea level and track deforestation in near-real time.

Shutterstock/CHEN HSI FU

Super blood Moon: everything you need to know about the lunar eclipse

Osnat Katz, UCL

A total lunar eclipse will be visible from parts of Australia, Asia and the western parts of North and South America on May 26.

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