A new video has been released portraying detained dissident journalist Roman Protasevich, who was arrested by Belarusian officials on Sunday after the government forced a civilian plane transporting him to land, inciting criticism from foreign leaders all over the world.
“The attitude of the [Interior Ministry] employees towards me has been as correct as possible and in compliance with the law,” Protasevich says in the video, which was posted Monday evening to a pro-government social media channel.
“I continue to cooperate with the investigation and have confessed to organizing mass riots in the city of Minsk,” he also says. His supporters believe the video was made under duress.
His father, Dmitri Protasevich, told the BBC on Monday that he was “really afraid” of how his son would be treated by the authorities.
“We hope that he will cope. We are afraid to even think about it, but it’s possible he could be beaten and tortured. We are really afraid of that,” he said.
“We are really shocked and really upset,” he said. “This sort of thing shouldn’t be happening in the 21st Century at the heart of Europe.
“We hope that the whole international community, including the European Union, will put unprecedented pressure on the authorities. We hope the pressure will work and the authorities will realise they’ve made a really big mistake.”
As reported by The Daily Wire, European Union leaders decided quickly on Monday to impose sanctions against Belarus after the incident over the weekend.
In an announcement, the European Council demanded “the immediate release of [journalist] Raman Pratasevich and [his partner] Sofia Sapega and that their freedom of movement be guaranteed.” They also called “on the International Civil Aviation Organization to urgently investigate this unprecedented and unacceptable incident,” as well as on the European Council “to adopt further targeted economic sanctions.”
They invited the Council to adopt more listings of individuals and entities “as soon as possible on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework.” The group also called on all European Union-based carriers to avoid flying over Belarus. In addition, they called on the Council to create the measures needed in order to prohibit Belarusian airlines from flying over E.U. airspace “and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported:
According to the BBC, flight “FR4978 was bound for Lithuania from Greece when it was forced to switch direction for the Belarusian capital Minsk on Sunday so the authorities there could arrest dissident journalist Roman Protasevich, 26.”
“The pilot announced the emergency diversion, but provided no details,” the BBC added, noting that the commercial plane was accompanied by a fighter jet.
“We all on the plane had panicked because we thought we were going to crash,” said one passenger, according to ABC News. “This was a sudden dive, changing the altitude very drastically. It was very violent. I’ve never felt this on an airplane. Everybody was in shock.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the event was “shocking” on Monday.
“Diverting a flight between two EU member states for the apparent purpose of arresting a journalist constitutes a brazen affront to international peace and security by the [Lukashenko] regime,” Psaki said during a press briefing. “We demand an immediate international, transparent and credible investigation of this incident.”
This is the most recent incident involving the assault on free speech in Belarus. In February, as reported by The Daily Wire, Belarusian authorities raided the homes and offices of activists and journalists.