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Belarus student requests forgiveness following Ryanair plane arrest

Belarus student requests forgiveness following Ryanair plane arrest

Belarus student requests forgiveness following Ryanair plane arrest

Belarus student requests forgiveness following Ryanair plane arrest. (credits: Google)

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  • Sofia Sapega was travelling with dissident journalist when their flight was diverted.
  • Convicted of inciting societal animosity and publishing private details about an anonymous person.
  • Believed to have been influenced by “a toxic group of people”.
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A Russian student who was jailed by Belarus last year while travelling on a Ryanair flight that was diverted has petitioned Alexander Lukashenko for forgiveness.

After their flight was forcibly diverted to Minsk in May 2021, Sofia Sapega and her travelling companion, dissident journalist Roman Protasevich, were both taken into custody.

She eventually received a six-year prison term for instigating unrest, which, according to her family, is untrue.

However, Ms. Sapega expressed regret for her behaviour in statements made by her attorney.

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The 24-year-old said in a letter addressed to Mr. Lukashenko that she had been influenced by “a toxic group of people” and that her “youth and stupidity” had driven her to do “crimes.”

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She pleaded with the dictatorial leader of Belarus to be forgiving and to give her the chance “to contribute to society and be near her parents.”

Ms. Sapega was convicted in May of a number of offences, including inciting societal animosity and unlawfully compiling and publishing details about the private life of an anonymous person without his authorization.

The country’s security agencies, the KGB, have been holding her in custody for more than a year, and detractors have claimed that Ms. Sapega’s prior statements were made under duress.

She might be transported to Russia to serve out her sentence, Mr. Lukashenko warned reporters earlier this month.

“Unfortunately for the girl. We must address this problem “He told the local media. “She’s from Russia. We follow a routine. We are able to send a Russian national back home. Give her the punishment there.”

Ms. Sapega was born in the Russian city of Vladivostok, but according to friends, she has spent her whole life in Belarus. At the time of her detention, she was a master’s student at the European Humanities University in Vilnius.

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The 27-year-old Mr. Protasevich was the editor of the opposition Nexta channel on the messaging service Telegram and a well-known opponent of the Belarusian president. The publication had covered the wave of massive street demonstrations against President Lukashenko that had started in the summer of 2020.

Anger over Mr. Lukashenko’s election to a sixth term in government in what the opposition claimed was a fraudulent presidential election sparked the widespread rallies.

At the time of their detention, Ms. Sapega and Mr. Protasevich had been friends for roughly six months. Mr. Protasevich himself left Belarus in 2019.

However, Ms. Sapega’s relatives and friends have emphasised that she was not a part of the opposition movement herself.

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