A new video shows the opposition journalist arrested in Belarus. On the images broadcast Thursday by Belarusian public television Roman Protassevich, visibly uncomfortable, admits for the second time to have called for protests against the regime.
The former editor-in-chief of the opposition media NEXTA, who played a key role in the historic protest movement in Belarus in 2020, also claims to respect President Alexander Lukashenko, want to correct his mistakes and lead a quiet life, far from politics.
Confessions obtained “under threat”
A few hours before the interview was broadcast, the human rights NGO Viasna denounced comments obtained “under threat”. “Everything that (Roman) Protassevich will say will have been obtained after threats, psychological at least, and under the threat of unjust but very serious accusations of which he is the object”, declared Thursday morning the director of Viasna, Ales Beliatski . “Whatever he says now is pure propaganda that has no part of the truth,” he continued.
The journalist’s father, Dmitri Protassevich, also considered that these televised confessions were the result of “violence, torture and threats”. “I know my son very well and I have no doubts that he would never say such things,” he said.
Roman Protassevich risks 15 years in prison
Roman Protassevich was arrested on 23 May along with his 23-year-old Russian companion, Sofia Sapega, after their Ryanair airliner made an unplanned landing in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, while departing from Athens and was to land in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Belarusian authorities justified the rerouting of the plane, which was flying over their territory, with a bomb threat.
This case sparked an international outcry and the announcement of new sanctions against Belarus, the opposition and Western capitals denouncing a subterfuge of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko to arrest the opponent. In Belarus, Roman Protassevich is being prosecuted for “organizing” riots in Belarus, a crime punishable by 15 years in prison.
His companion also filmed
The day after the opponent’s arrest, while independent media worried about his state of health, the Belarusian authorities broadcast a video of Roman Protassevich in which the latter said he had “confessed”.
Her Russian friend, Sofia Sapega, also appeared in a video where she confesses to crimes. Each time, the opposition denounced recordings obtained under duress, a practice long used by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.