Belarus transfers dissident Protasevich and his partner to house arrest, according to their families

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Belarusian authorities have released Roman Protasevich, the 26-year-old journalist critical of Alexandr Lukashenko’s Belarusian regime, and his partner, Sofia Sapega, to house arrest, according to their families. The dissident’s father, Dmitri Protasevich, has informed the British channel BBCNot without qualifying that he has not yet received any official evidence confirming this change in the couple’s detention regime. Sergei Dudich, Sofía Sapega’s stepfather, has also assured the BBC that the 23-year-old Russian student is in a rented apartment in Minsk. “We are in a state of shock,” said this relative of the young woman.

“Sofia Sapega’s regime has been changed to house arrest, under conditions defined by court order. He can only travel in a police convoy and cannot use communication devices. We believe that this has happened mainly thanks to the meeting of the presidents [el presidente ruso, Vladímir Putin, y su homólogo bielorruso, Alexander Lukashenko] in Sochi. And it is a very positive development, which will help to make a positive decision about his fate in the near future, “said Anton Gashinsky, a lawyer for Sapega.

The young woman’s stepfather assured that the family trusts that the charges against her will be dropped. Dmitri Protasevich, father of the journalist arrested in Minsk when he was flying on a Ryanair plane that was on the Athens-Vilnius route on May 23, was less optimistic and assured that the charges still remain against his son and his girlfriend. “The lawyer doesn’t say anything, the authorities don’t say anything,” Protasevich’s father added to the BBC. “If the form of detention has changed, it is an improvement in their living conditions. Otherwise, we don’t know what will come next ”.

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After their arrest at the end of May, both the journalist and Sapega were accused of having organized illegal demonstrations to overthrow the Lukashenko regime, crimes that could lead to up to 15 years in prison. Both have subsequently appeared in various videos broadcast on Belarusian public television in which they confessed the charges against them. Both the journalist’s relatives and the Belarusian opposition have denounced that these recordings were obtained under duress, an accusation confirmed at the end of May by the spokesman for the UN human rights office, Rupert Colville, who then denounced that in some of these images showed what looked like signs of blows.

The international community has demanded from the outset the immediate release of the journalist critical of Lukashenko and his partner. In response to the “kidnapping” -as described by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen-, of the plane by Minsk, the EU agreed to extend the sanctions against the regime of the Belarusian president, close the airspace with that country and recommend that community airlines avoid flying over that country.

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