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Belarusian blogger arrested on Ryanair flight pardoned – state media

BelTA, the official news agency of Belarusian Government, announced Monday (22 May) that Roman Protasevich was pardoned. He was arrested after his Ryanair plane was forced to land in Minsk, Belarus, in 2021.

BelTA reported that Protasevich said: “I literally’signed all relevant documents stating that I have been pardoned. This is wonderful news.

Protasevich received a sentence of eight years in prison for crimes such as inciting terrorism or mass disturbances. He also slandered Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

He worked as a journalist at the news agency Nexta. Nexta covered extensively the protests against Lukashenko that occurred after the presidential elections in 2020. The opposition and Western governments believed the election was rigged.


During the crackdown around the elections, all significant opposition figures were either jailed or exiled.

Stsiapan Putsila, the founder of Nexta, and Stsiapan Rubik, the former editor, were sentenced in absentia to prison for 20 years and 19 years, respectively, by the same court. Belarus declared Nexta a “terrorist organization” last year.

The arrest of Protasevich, in May 2021, caused an international outcry and sanctions against Lukashenko by the European Union.


After his arrest, Protasevich was shown crying on TV as he confessed that he had been involved in antigovernment demonstrations and plotting to overthrow Lukashenko. The exiled Belarusian Opposition claimed that these confessions were false and forced.

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