Today, the court of Grodno region ruled in the case of political prisoner, Russian citizen Sofia Sapiega. On May 23, 2021, she and her fiancé, opposition blogger Raman Pratasiewicz, were arrested at Minsk airport – Belarusian services forced a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius. Alexander Lukashenko’s scandalous operation has led to unprecedented sanctions against Belarus.
The verdict was read today behind closed doors in the courtroom Sofia Sapieqa. According to the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Russian woman was found guilty of two of the seven charges: group activity aimed at causing public harm (part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code) and illegal collection or distribution. information constituting a personal or family secret from private life (Part 1 of Article 179 of the Criminal Code).
For this, the political prisoner was sentenced to 6 years in prison and had to pay 167,500 Belarusian rubles to the injured and 7,488 Belarusian rubles for court expenses. The girl was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom. The decision is not final and can be appealed.
The trial was not officially open due to the need to disclose the personal information of a large number of citizens, including court and prosecutorial staff. Defendant’s lawyers did not have the right to comment on the proceedings, and his relatives were not informed of the proceedings.
Lukashenko hijacks the plane
On May 23, 2021, a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius had to land in Minsk. The official reason was information about the bomb on the plane, which the crew received from Belarusian air traffic controllers. A MiG-29 fighter jet was sent to accompany the plane. After the landing, it became clear that there were no bombs, and Belarusian services organized a whole provocation to arrest the independent blogger. Raman Pratasiewicz, Co-founder of NEXTA channel. His fiancée, Sofia Sapiega, a Russian woman, was also arrested.
The air traffic controller, who fled from Belarus, later revealed that the entire operation was operated by a KGB officer who had previously provided information about the plane over the phone.
The hijacking and abduction of the plane was a clear violation of international air conventions. The international community has condemned the regime’s actions Alexander Lukashenko. In response, the European Union banned Belarusian aircraft from using EU airspace and imposed special sanctions on sectors.
Who is Sofia Sapiega and what happened to her?
Sofia Sapiega is a Russian citizen living in Belarus. Born in 1998, he studied at the European Humanities University in Vilnius – the University of Belarus in exile – and had to defend his dissertation in July 2021. According to her friends, the girl loved to draw, did sports and was interested in philosophy. He was not involved in political activities.
Following his arrest, Belarusian authorities said Sapiega was suspected of inciting riots during anti-regime protests. He was later accused of inciting hostility. On May 25, 2021, the regime’s Telegram channels published an audio recording of Sofia’s interrogation, calling herself the editor of the “Belarusian Black Book” channel, which published the personal data of Belarusian soldiers. In an interview with Belsat, his friends denied the allegations.
The girl was taken to the KGB Investigation Cell. In his first letter to his relatives, he admitted that he was afraid of being released as “out of life” and “unnecessary for society.”
On June 17, 2021, Sofia’s father addressed her Alexander Lukashenko with a request for a meeting and pity for the girl.
On June 25, Sofia Sapiega and Raman Pratasiewicz were placed under house arrest. The girl was even allowed to meet her parents in one of the Minsk restaurants. Investigators said the defendants pleaded guilty and testified.
In turn, the Russian government insists on monitoring the situation of its citizens. Chairman of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation Valeri Fadeev He promised that Moscow would demand his extradition. Lawyer Anton Hashinsky He said that the couple’s house arrest took place after talks between the Belarusian and Russian authorities.
The preventive measure against Sapiega has not changed. From June 2021, he will be guarded by two officers day and night.
The Belarusian government has launched an active propaganda campaign to neutralize the consequences of the international scandal.
At first, Raman Pratasiewicz was sitting in front of ONT cameras, showing signs of abuse. On June 14, the blogger was taken to a press conference on the seizure of the Ryanair plane. There, he said he did everything voluntarily and felt good.
The detainee’s statements did not change the image of the regime, but simply forced Pratasiewicz to play in front of the cameras. There was a possibility that Rama could be blackmailed and that Sofia was a de facto hostage.
Then he appeared in the studio of state television. On August 10, 2021, he said in front of the cameras that he did not believe that the flight crew was forced to land by Belarusian services. He also reiterated Pratasiewicz’s (NEXTA) opposition thesis that the plane had landed and that there were no KGB agents on board.
After the arrest of Raman Pratasiewicz, he began to actively support the regime in the field of propaganda. He created a channel on Telegram, where he made several appeals, supported the constitutional referendum and announced his cooperation with the Lukashenko activist. Dzmitri Bielakov (the fugitive’s employer Emil Cechkowho was the first to find his hanged body). The blogger even announced that he had filed a lawsuit against Ryanair. However, no one takes his statements seriously, and Belarusians know that the boy did it under duress.
Request for grace and 7 paragraphs
Sofia’s participation in the Persian propaganda did not help. On December 20, 2021, he was charged with committing crimes under Article seven of the Criminal Code.
- “Stimulation of hostility by a group of people” – part 3 Art. 130 CC
- “Organization of Violence and Threats against Police” – Part 4 Art. 16 and Art. 364 of the CM
- “Threats, slander and dissemination of information about police officers” – part 4 Art. 16 and Art. 365 of the Criminal Code
- “Organizing Violence and Threats Against Government Officials” – Part 4 Art. 16 and Art. 366 of the CM
- “Organizing the Threat of Murder or Violence Against Judges” – Part 4 Art. 16 and Art. 389 of the Criminal Code
- “Complicating the work of journalists with the threat of violence” – part 4, article 16 and paragraph. 198 of the CM
- “Purposeful collection of data and personal information” – part Art. 1 and 2. CM 203-1
The next day, her relatives told reporters that Sofia had sent a pardon to Lukashenko. The girl’s stepfather Siarhei Dudzicz He stressed that any decision could be made only after the court announces the verdict, but he hopes that the family will be acquitted.
At the end of December 2021, his case was taken to court. The trial began behind closed doors on March 28, 2022 in Grodno Regional Court.
Sofia Sapieg is one of 1,159 political prisoners in the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
pj / belsat.eu