Pro-government Telegram channel releases first footage of Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich since his arrest
The pro-government Telegram channel Zheltye Slivy has released the first footage of Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich since his arrest at the Minsk airport on May 23.
“I’m in SIZO [Pre-Trial Detention Center] No. 1 in Minsk. I can declare that I have no health problems, including with my heart and with any other organs. The officers are treating me with the utmost correctness and according to the law. I’m continuing to cooperate with the investigation and confess to the fact of organizing mass riots in the city of Minsk,” Protasevich says in the video.
Earlier, Roman Protasevich’s mother told the media that “people from the medical community” had informed her that her son had been hospitalized in Minsk due to heart problems.
The Belarusian Interior Ministry denied the reports of Protasevich’s hospitalization. Police officials confirmed that the detained journalist was in custody at Pre-Trial Detention Center No.1 in Minsk, adding that there haven’t been any complaints about his health.
The Belarusian authorities arrested Roman Protasevich at the Minsk National Airport on May 23, after they diverted his Ryanair flight due to an alleged bomb threat. Protasevich was detained along with his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, who is a Russian citizen. The remaining passengers from the flight were allowed to continue their journey to Vilnius after a seven-hour delay.
Roman Protasevich is a Belarusian journalist and an editor of the opposition Telegram channel Belamova (Belarus Golovnogo Mozga). Previously, he was the editor-in-chief of the Telegram-based outlet Nexta, which became the most prominent opposition news source amid the protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election in August 2020. The Belarusian authorities have designated both Belamova and Nexta as “extremist.”
In Belarus, Protasevich faces charges of organizing mass riots in Minsk and “inciting social enmity” against government and police officials. Both he and Nexta’s founder, Stepan Putilo, were added to the Belarusian security service’s terrorism watchlist in November 2020.