Sophia Saphega, Russian student arrested with Belarus activist, appears in ‘confession’ video

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The video comes a day after featuring a similar 26-year-old Protasevich, who has been detained for “confessing” to mass riots in the Belarusian capital. Both videos indicate that the pair were possibly speaking under pressure.

The videos follow Belarusian authorities, who take the extraordinary step of converting Ryanair’s flight carrying the couple to Minsk on Sunday. The aircraft flew from Greece and was bound for Lithuania.

The 23-year-old law student Spega identified herself in the video, stating that she lived in the Lithuanian city of Vilnius.

“On 23.05.2021, I flew in the same way as Roman Protacevich. I am also the editor of the Telegram channel ‘The Black Book of Belarus’, which publishes personal data of employees [Ministry of] Internal Affairs, ”she said in the video, which was posted on pro-government social media channels.

Belarusian authorities have not provided any evidence that Sapega has links to the Telegram channel.

In a video featuring Protasevich on Monday, the activist said Interior Ministry employees were treating her in a “right” manner and “in compliance with the law”.

He also said, “I continue to cooperate in the investigation and have confessed to organizing large-scale riots in the city of Minsk.” His supporters said they believed the video was produced under pressure.

Sapega’s mother, Anna Dudich, Russian government TV channel RT. told That his daughter was pursuing postgraduate studies in international and European law at the European Humanities University in Vilnius and was not interested in politics. She said that her daughter had told her about Protasevich, but never told how they met.

Dudich said, “She was detained simply because she is Roman Protasevich’s partner. They met about six months ago. She always talked positively about him.”

“Sophia is a literate person, very educated. A very decent person. She can draw really well, her drawings were unique. She was fond of philosophy. He speaks almost exclusively English. Perhaps, the meeting between them was like this., On an intellectual level, ”Dudich told RT.

“They were just dating, they had a joint vacation in Greece. We called her the day before. She said everything was fine, that she loved the holiday. And in the morning, I had a text message with her Found the word ‘Mama’, when she was already at Minsk Airport, ”said Dudich.

Dudich said that he and Sápega’s father Andrei Sápega were surprised to see the video taken by their daughter in custody.

“We no longer know where to go. I very much want our law enforcement agencies, especially the Republic of Belarus, to be able to find out. And I hope our girl will be free,” he said.

Andrei Saphega described his daughter as “unholy”.

“He never participated in protest work, did not show any interest in politics at all,” he told RT.

Sapega was traveling in a Ryanair flight that was diverted.

Lukashenko stands with the story of the bomb threat

World leaders have condemned authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, described by many as “kidnapped”, while the European Union imposed sanctions and US President Joe Biden described it As an “abusive incident” and “a direct insult to international norms”. He said that the US would consider options to hold those responsible accountable.

The European Union and Canada have banned the use of Belarusian airspace of their aircraft.

A Belarusian official previously claimed that the Minsk airport had received an email from the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas stating that a bomb was planted in Ryanair’s flight, a claim that Hamas called as “fake news” Rejected.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Lukashenko claimed that the flight was diverted due to the bomb threat, adding that the threat originated in Switzerland.

The Swiss Department for Foreign Affairs tweeted: “Swiss authorities had no knowledge of the bomb threat on Ryanair’s flight to Athens-Vilnius and, moreover, to Belarusian authorities from #Switzerland.”

Roman Protasevich: Young dissident whom Belarus diverted Ryanair's flight to arrest

Lukashenko also said that the aircraft was near the Belarus nuclear power plant at the time and asked what would have happened if the plant’s security systems had been put on full alert. However, the plane’s route to Vilnius – which was close to Minsk at the time of diversion – shows that it does not fly close to the plant.

“Our actions may seem excessive to those who are trying to justify their crimes. But this strategy is extremely important for the country,” Lukashenko said, adding that the entire matter poses a threat to the sovereignty of Belarus. Demanded to be marked in.

He added that the country’s enemies aimed to “dissolve the Belarusian people and start strangling their sworn enemy – the Russian people.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the Russian government believed that Belarusian authorities had argued to land the plane in Minsk. Asked if the Kremlin had received an appeal for help from Spega’s mother, Peskov said he was unaware of one.

“I only know that it was announced in the media. Of course, all consular security, legal protection, will be provided for a Russian citizen. Our Foreign Ministry said this,” he said.

“The Belarusian side said that charges were leveled against her, including involvement, illegal acts, etc. In addition, we saw her confessional statement. But in any case, she has the right to defend, and sure As such, all necessary assistance will be provided to ensure his legal protection. “

'He cut off my underwear.  Then he did what he did '

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovsya said on Wednesday that Lukashenko is turning Belarus into Europe’s North Korea and predicted more protests against his long rule this summer. He also criticized the position of the European Union on Belarus.

“Let’s be clear, the previous EU strategy of waiting and watching for the Belarusian regime does not work. The EU’s view of gradual increased pressure on Lukashenko’s regime has not managed to change its behavior and only with impunity Massive repression gave rise to a growing sense of liberation. Now, I call on the European Parliament to ensure that the response of the international community is not limited to Ryanair’s flight incident. “

Lukashenko has led Belarus since 1994 and took his sixth consecutive term last year after the election period following brutal crackdown on large-scale protests against the leader. Belarusian authorities detained political opposition celebrities, protesters and activists.

CNN investigations have found cases where Belarusian authorities have used torture against detained protesters.

Angela Dewan of CNN wrote from London, and Zarah Ullah contributed from Moscow.

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