A court in the Belarusian city of Grodno sentenced the girlfriend of the Belarusian opposition leader Roman Protasevic to six years in prison for hate speech. This was reported by the human rights organization Viasna. In May last year, Russian Sofia Sabiga accompanied her partner on a flight that had to make an emergency landing in Belarus. The destination of the trip was the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, the residence of the exiles Protacevic and Sabiga.
Then the Belarusian security forces removed the couple from the plane and arrested them. The international community saw the hand of Belarusian President Lukashenko in manipulating the flight, but denied any involvement in it. The case caused an uproar in the Western world and led to sanctions by the European Union and the United States against Belarus.
Protasevich was active as a blogger on Telegram, where he sharply criticized the pro-Russian autocratic president Lukashenko. His channel Nexta Live played a major role in the massive opposition to Lukashenko’s re-election after the alleged election in 2020.
Sabiga, 24, is not known to be known except that he studied law in Vilnius. The Belarusian authorities released a video last year in which they admitted to a critical publication, The Black Book of Belarus, cooperated. It is widely believed that such confessions are obtained under duress in Belarus. Protasevich’s video confession was also released. His case has not yet reached trial.
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