SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 1 August 2021, Sunday |

Belarus moves arrested opposition blogger Protasevich to house arrest

Opposition blogger Roman Protasevich, who was arrested in May after the grounding of a Ryanair plane in Minsk has been moved by Belarus from a detention facility to house arrest, the BBC Russian service reported on Friday.

Protasevich is now in a rented flat in Minsk, his father Dmitri Protasevich told the BBC, but said the authorities were still not giving information to the family.

His girlfriend, Russian citizen Sofia Sapega was also moved to a rented flat, where she is living alone, her stepfather told the BBC.

The Russian embassy in Minsk confirmed that Sapega had been moved to house arrest, the TASS news agency reported.

The interception of the Ryanair plane flying between Athens and Vilnius on May 23 prompted international outrage, and this week the European Union imposed wide-ranging economic sanctions on Belarus over the incident.

Belarusian authorities arrested Protasevich and Sapega after the plane landed, in an incident Western countries branded as state piracy.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who faced months of anti-government protests last year following his contested re-election in a vote his critics said was rigged, said the interception was justified to prevent a rebellion in Belarus.

“It is difficult for me to comment on the actions of the authorities, what their aims are,” the BBC cited Protasevich’s father as saying. “They (Protasevich and his girlfriend) are still under the full control of the authorities, no one has dropped the charges.

“They don’t tell us anything about Roman’s condition, about his status, it is simply a mockery.”