The Russian girlfriend of a Belarusian dissident sentenced to six years in prison has asked strongman Alexander Lukashenko for a pardon, state media said Monday.
Sofia Sapega, 24, was detained along with Belarusian opposition activist Roman Protasevich, 27, in May 2021 when their Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was grounded as it flew over Belarus.
Sapega, a Russian citizen, faced seven criminal charges, including “incitement to social hatred” and “violence or threats” against the police, and was sentenced to six years in prison last month.
On Monday, Sovetskaya Belarus, the official spokesperson for Lukashenko’s office, said Sapega had asked the president for a pardon.
The announcement was made after Lukashenko held talks with President Vladimir Putin in Russia over the weekend.
Lukashenko said in early June that he could pardon Sapega.
“We have to solve this problem,” he said at the time.
“We can transfer a Russian citizen to Russia. Let her sit out there. Or they can do whatever they want.’
Protasevich fled to Europe in 2019, from where he co-managed the Nexta Telegram channels, a major Belarusian opposition media outlet that helped mobilize protesters during historic demonstrations against the disputed 2020 reelection of Lukashenko.
After their arrests, both Protasevich and Sapega appeared in “confession” videos that their supporters said were forcibly shot and are a common tactic of the regime to pressure critics.
Protasevich is still under house arrest in Belarus pending trial.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)