Belarus sentences dissident’s girlfriend to six years in prison. Source: AL JAZEERA (Remember the Ryanair flight that was forced to land and the “dissident blogger” removed and placed in prison)

Posted by

News

Belarus sentences dissident’s girlfriend to six years in prison

Sofia Sapega, whose flight was forced to land in Belarus last year, was convicted for inciting social hatred.

Sofia Sapega attends a court hearing in Grodno, Belarus.
Sapega attends a court hearing in Grodno, Belarus [Vadzim Yakubionak/BelTA/Handout via Reuters]

Published On 6 May 20226 May 2022

A Belarusian court sentenced Sofia Sapega, the girlfriend of a dissident arrested after their commercial flight was forced to land in Belarus last year, to six years in prison on Friday for inciting social hatred, according to the Viasna Human Rights Center.

  • Belarus said at the time it had ordered the plane to land after an anonymous tip-off that there was a bomb on board.

The bomb threat turned out to be false, and Protasevich and Sapega were immediately arrested.

The diversion of a commercial flight to arrest the pair prompted international outrage and urged the European Union and United States to impose more sanctions against Belarus.

A woman holds a portrait of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega during a protest of solidarity with Roman Protasevic at the Belarusian embassy in Riga, Latvia, 25 May 2021. Belarus' opposition journalist Roman Protasevich
A woman holds a portrait of Protasevich and Sapega during a protest of solidarity in Riga, Latvia [File: Toms Kalnins/EPA]

“I am sorry for Sofia and her family. No one should suffer from dictatorship,” exiled Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya wrote on Twitter after Friday’s verdict.

Russian opposition figures criticised their country for not intervening in the case of Sapega despite claims it is protecting Russians abroad, one of the reasons Moscow has used to justify its military campaign in Ukraine.

“The Russian foreign ministry did not take any steps to get her out of the clutches of Lukashenko,” allies of jailed opposition activist Andrei Pivovarov wrote on his Twitter account.

“Six years for being in love (with Protasevich),” Gennady Gudkov, a former lawmaker and member of the liberal opposition, wrote on Twitter. “A rare bastard has seized power in Belarus,” he added, referring to Lukashenko.

There was no immediate reaction to the verdict from Russian authorities. The Russian General Consulate in the Belarusian city of Brest said one its diplomats attended the court hearing, but made no further comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s