(es) Vienna. June 25, 2021
Belarus journalist Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega, arrested after their flight was forced to land in Minsk on May 23, have been moved from prison to house arrest, it emerged today (June 25). Accused of organising riots, Roman – beaten up and forced to confess and denounce colleagues on state television – faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted. Sapega has been accused of causing unrest.
Roman’s father Dmitri told the BBC the authorities had provided no further information except that Roman was now in a rented flat and Sofia to a separate one. The Kremlin said today that Russian diplomats would continue to “guard” her interests.
Opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s office in Lithuania confirmed both were under house arrest. “But house arrest does not mean freedom ,” she said. “They remain hostages.”
The European Union imposed economic sanctions on Belarus yesterday, targeting its main export industries and access to finance.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who faced street protests last year over a rigged presidential election still claims intercepting the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was justified because of a bomb alert, and denies electoral fraud.