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Jailed opposition journalist Roman Protasevich speaks at Belarusian Foreign Ministry press briefing

Source: Meduza

Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, who was arrested after the forced landing of a Ryanair passenger plane in Minsk last month, spoke at a Belarusian Foreign Ministry briefing at the national press center on June 14.

In addition to giving detailed answers to questions from journalists about his health, Protasevich addressed allegations that he was abused and tortured in pre-trial custody. “I feel great, I’m in a great mood, I have no complaints. Nobody beat me, they didn’t touch me. I ask you to spread rumors and speculation about my health less. Mom, dad, don’t worry, I really am fine,” Protasevich said.

The journalist also underscored that no one forced him to cooperate with the investigators. “This is my personal choice. I’m aware of the damage I caused to the state,” Protasevich said.

In addition, Protasevich stated that while he would never be a supporter of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, he respects him as someone who has managed to retain power after last year’s opposition protests.

Some of the journalists at the briefing expressed doubts about the sincerity of Protasevich’s statements; reporters from the BBC walked out of the press conference in protest.

“We have just walked out. Not taking part when he is clearly there under duress,” wrote BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher on Twitter.


On June 3, Belarusian state TV aired an “interview” with Roman Protasevich, which many — including his parents — believe was conducted under duress. Traces of injuries could also be seen on Protasevich’s wrists, fueling allegations that he was tortured in custody in Belarus. 

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