Minsk. Three weeks after his arrest, government critic Roman Protasewicz, who was imprisoned in Belarus, unexpectedly appeared at a press conference. “I feel great,” the 26-year-old said in Minsk on Monday. “No one hit me or even touched me with their finger,” said the blogger, who seemed relaxed and laughed several times.
At the same time, the activist turned to his parents, who asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the newspaper “Bild” for help with the release: “Mam, Pap, do not worry, everything is fine with me.”
Protasevich made a statement at an appearance organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which the authorities once again presented their views on the emergency landing of a passenger plane. The young man said that he does not support Governor Alexander Lukashenko. “I respect him as a person.”
A journalist present at the press conference said she did not believe Protasevich was making his statements voluntarily. She was referring to a television interview a week earlier in which the blogger admitted in an apparently forced confession that he organized mass protests against Lukashenko. The 26-year-old contradicted it, again claiming to have been “honest” in the recordings that lasted more than four hours. Journalists from a British radio station left the room in protest. Protasevich sat on the podium a few representatives of the Ministry of Transport and Defense. After the press conference ended, he immediately jumped up and left the room.
Almost three weeks ago, the authoritarian state authorities forced a Ryanair airliner to stop in Minsk on its way from Athens to Vilnius with a fighter plane. Government critic Protacevic and his girlfriend Sofia Sabiga were on the plane. Both were arrested. Accordingly, the European Union again imposed sanctions on the former Soviet republic.
Meanwhile, a Minsk court dismissed a complaint filed by Sapiga against her detention in closed session on Monday. The lawyers wanted to appeal the decision. They argued that in accordance with international agreements, Belarus is obligated to ensure that air travelers reach their intended destination. Two criminal cases are still pending against the Russian citizen.
“Food practitioner. Bacon guru. Infuriatingly humble zombie enthusiast. Total student.”