Belarus authorities release second confessional video

Cheryl Sanders
May 26, 2021

CNN notes Belarus hasn't offered any evidence Sapega, who's reportedly being held in Belarus for at least two months, was tied to the Telegram channel. Russia has dismissed Western outrage, despite Protasevich's girlfriend and Russian citizen Sofiya Sapega's arrest aboard the same flight, and is expected to oppose a collective statement on the incident.

"As we predicted, our ill-wishers at home and overseas have changed their methods of attacking the state", Lukashenko said in an address to members of parliament, the Belta state-run news agency reported.

On Sunday, Belarus used the pretext of a bogus bomb threat to force the aircraft to land in Minsk. Mr. Lukashenko denied that the fighter jet had forced the airliner to land, calling such claims an "absolute lie". The carrier has said its crew was instructed to land.

"Our ill-wishers outside and inside the country have changed their methods of attacking the state", he said. Lukashenko - often dubbed "Europe's last dictator" - is facing some of the strongest worldwide pressure of his almost 27-year rule of ex-Soviet Belarus.

The Belarus strongman and his allies are under a series of Western sanctions over a brutal crackdown on mass protests that followed his disputed re-election to a sixth term last August.

Biden made the statement - and joined calls for an global investigation - as the European Union imposed sanctions against Belarus, including banning its airlines from using the airspace and airports in the 27-nation bloc in reaction to Sunday's forced diversion of the Lithuania-bound Ryanair flight.

The Belarusian opposition has called for further and stronger measures and more protests.

His first public comments on the forced diversion came ahead of a UN Security Council meeting behind closed doors set for later Wednesday.

In the video, Protasevich's face appears to be marked with abrasions and bruises, suggesting that authorities subjected him to "torture or other ill-treatment" before recording the supposed confession, Amnesty International spokesman Alexander Artemyev told The Washington Post.

A video released Tuesday showed Sofia Sapega appearing to confess to editing a Telegram channel.

Her lawyer said she had been ordered held for two months of pre-trial detention and Russian Federation confirmed she was being detained as a criminal suspect.

Jade McGlynn, director of research at the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think-tank, said: "Last year, the LSE allowed Belarus to raise money even as it was imprisoning the democratic opposition for daring to run against Aleksandr Lukashenko, dictator for some 27 years".

"I'm asking, I'm begging, I'm calling on the whole global community to save him", Natalia Protasevich said, weeping.

"Please, world, stand up and help, I beg you so much because they will kill him, they will kill him".

He also threatened to retaliate against European Union sanctions by weakening Belarusian border controls that help halt westbound illegal migration and drug traffic.

Other reports by iNewsToday