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Detained Belarusian blogger appears in video, opposition cries foul

CM 24/05/2021

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A Belarusian blogger, Roman Protasevich, who was detained when the Ryanair plane from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk on Sunday, is being held in a jail, the interior ministry said on Monday. It added he has not complained of ill health.

In a video posted online on Monday Protasevich acknowledged having played a role in organizing mass protests in Minsk last year.The comments were immediately dismissed by his allies as made under duress.”This is how Raman looks under physical and moral pressure. I demand the immediate release of Raman and all political prisoners,” a leader of Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Thiskanouskaya, wrote on Twitter in English, using the Belarusian spelling of his name.
Appearing on several channels of the Telegram messaging app, Protasevich, wearing a dark sweatshirt and with his hands tightly clasped in front of him, said he is in a pre-trial detention facility in Minsk and denied having heart problems reported by some social media.He also appeared to have a small black spot on his forehead.

However, Poland has heard from the mother of Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protasevich that his health condition is very serious, a Deputy Foreign Minister said on Monday.
“We have received a signal from the mother of Roman Protasevich that his health situation is very serious. That is as much as I can say on that subject,” Pawel Jablonski told private broadcaster TVN24. 
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, 66, has faced the biggest challenge of his nearly 27-year-old rule from protesters who took to the streets after he was declared the winner of an election last year they said was rigged.
About 35,000 people have been detained since the start of regular demonstrations in August 2020. Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and has accused the West of sponsoring the protests.


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