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Belarusian opponent Roman Protassevich confesses filmed “under threat”

Belarusian public television on Thursday aired statements in which opposition journalist Roman Protassevich, recently arrested after the hijacking of his plane, admitted his guilt and said he wanted to correct his mistakes. These confessions were filmed ” under the threat “, denounces his father, just like the human rights NGO Viasna.

> Watch the video broadcast by Belarusian public television:

Former editor-in-chief of the opposition media NEXTA, which played a key role in the historic protest movement in Belarus in 2020, Roman Protassevich, visibly uncomfortable, claims to have called for protests against the regime and ensures respect President Alexander Lukashenko.

The 26-year-old journalist also says he wants to correct his mistakes and lead a quiet life, far from politics.

“Pure propaganda”

The journalist’s father, Dmitry Protassevich, believed that the televised confession was the result of “Violence, torture and threats”.

“I know my son very well and I have the conviction that he would never say such things”, he said.

A few hours before the interview was broadcast, the human rights NGO Viasna had also denounced the comments obtained ” under the threat “.

“All that will say [Roman] Protassevich 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 ”, thus declared Thursday morning the director of Viasna, Ales Beliatski. “Whatever he says now, it is pure propaganda which has no part of the truth”, he continued.

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, when he had departed 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.

International outcry

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 sued for “Organization” riots, a felony punishable by 15 years in prison.

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 was “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.

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