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June 08, 2023

After Pardon Given To Regime Changer Roman Protasevich His Girlfriend Gets Released Too

On May 26 I commented the pardoning of Roman Protasevich in Belarus:

Closing The Case Of Regime Changer Roman Protasevich And His Ryanair Flight To Minsk

Moon of Alabama has followed the case throughout. Those interested in the details of the original incident can find them in our June 2 2021 post. For a wider political view of the 'color revolution' business in east Europe see this piece by Kit Klarenberg. Links to all MoA posts about the case are listed at the end of this piece.

A week after the incident, during a long TV interview, Protasevich spilled the beans about the whole regime operation. He also says that he has come to believe that one of his regime changer colleagues had sent the bomb threat email to get him arrested.

A few weeks later Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega were released and put under house arrest. A trial followed and, in early May of this year, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

I though that the sentence, in light of his public turnabout, was quite harsh but others accused of the same regime change operations against Belarus had received up to 20 years prison time. Still, eight years is a long time for a young man who had clearly changed his mind. Sofia Sapega, who is a Russian citizen, had earlier received a 6 year sentence.

On May 22 Protasevich was unexpectedly pardoned:

All was fine with Protasevich but the fate of his (former?) partner, Sofia Sapega, was still up in air. I expressed hope that she would soon be released too:

Reporting on Protasevich's pardon the Washington Post notes:

Sapega, a Russian national, was accused of running another Telegram channel called “Belarus’s Black Book,” which published personal information about the country’s security forces. She was sentenced in 2022 to six years in prison. Last month, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus granted its Russian counterparts’ request to transfer Sapega to Russia following her family’s pleas.

I have found no other new information about Sapega but, if she is still with Protasevich, it is likely that she will now receive similar leniency.

Today the New York Times reports that my hope has been fulfilled:

A Russian woman imprisoned in Belarus after being arrested with her dissident boyfriend has been pardoned.

The Belarusian president has pardoned a Russian woman who was arrested along with her boyfriend, an exiled blogger and antigovernment activist, after the dramatic forced landing of a flight in Minsk.

The president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, on Wednesday released the woman, Sofia Sapega, 25, only two weeks after he pardoned the blogger, Roman Protasevich.

On May 31 the Ukrainian news outlet Strana, prohibited from publishing in Ukraine as well as in Russia, defended Protasevich from smears by the foreign directed, expatriate opposition (machine translation):

The former editor-in-chief of Nexta, Roman Protasevich, did not trample on the white-red-white flag of the Belarusian opposition, which was spread on Belarusian TV in front of the entrance to the studio.

The flag was placed at the threshold instead of a doormat. Protasevich came to the studio together with the famous Belarusian TV presenter Grigory Azarenok.

Azarenok entered the room in front of the former oppositionist and walked on the white-red-white flag, while Protasevich stepped over the symbol of the Belarusian opposition several times.

Congratulations to Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega and a respectful bow to President Lukashenko for the sensible handling of their cases.

Previous coverage of the case published on Moon of Alabama:

Posted by b on June 8, 2023 at 10:33 UTC | Permalink


They lost their value as prisoners. Protasievich will have to stay in Belarus, while Sapega will be in Russia, without the right to enter Belarus. Sapega's parents wanted to save her, one way or another.

Posted by: ostro | Jun 8 2023 10:49 utc | 1

b, that is a good result for all those who have been following the story with an open mind.

Posted by: Merkin Scot | Jun 8 2023 10:52 utc | 2

Ostro, I am surprised ypu didn't mention that Nasty Mr. Putin is sure to follow them with poisoned doorknobs and underwear for evermore.

Posted by: Merkin Scot | Jun 8 2023 10:57 utc | 3

Merkin Scot | Jun 8 2023 10:57 utc | 3

It is actually Putin's press secretary Peskov was behind the release of Sapega. Learn to read Russian... :)

Posted by: ostro | Jun 8 2023 11:05 utc | 4

Sofia Sapega after the pardon: "I have nothing to say about Roman Protasevich. I wish him to live this life with dignity"

Posted by: ostro | Jun 8 2023 11:08 utc | 5

This is going to be hard for the western propagandists to explain.

They suggested that Protasevich expressed remorse because he was either brainwashed in custody or forced to collobarate with his 'kidnappers'.

Are they going to say that the same thing happened to Sofia Sapega? I haven't seen any reports of a public apology by her but she did express gratitude to Lukaschenko and in the published images she seemed happy to be handed over to a delegation from Russia's Primorye Territory that included its Governor.

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 8 2023 11:16 utc | 6

Alexander Lukashenko pardoned Sofia Sapega. Earlier, a delegation from Primorsky Krai, Russia Federation, addressed the President of Belarus with a request for pardon, and at the exit from the colony, Sapega was met by relatives, as well as Governor Oleg Kozhemyako of the Primorsky Krai, Russia Federation.

Our compatriot Sofia Sapega got a unique chance to start life anew. She is free after my appeal to the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko. He reacted with paternal understanding to the requests of Sofia's parents for indulgence. They asked to be handed over personally to the head of the fraternal state. Alexander Grigoryevich signed the decree on pardon immediately after our meeting. Only a truly wise head of state and a strong person are capable of such a step.
- Governor Oleg Kozhemyako of the Primorsky Krai, Russia Federation.

Posted by: ostro | Jun 8 2023 11:17 utc | 7

“I would like to thank President Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko for this decision that means a lot to me and my family, for the opportunity to return home, to my mother and father, for giving me a second chance. Not many got this chance, but I was really lucky,” Sofia Sapega said sharing her first emotions.

Posted by: ostro | Jun 8 2023 11:22 utc | 8

Is really banned in Russia? I see them quoted regularly in Russian telegram channels and blogs, and know Russians who read them regularly.

Posted by: aquadraht | Jun 8 2023 11:23 utc | 9

Only last week there were a number of reports in the media that Lukashenko became critically ill in Moscow after a meeting there with Putin. The source was an opposition leader and 2020 Belarusian presidential candidate.

In the following couple of days, Lukashenko made public statements in Belarus as any healthy leader would do and yesterday he issued the pardon to Sapega.

No wonder so many Belarusan people support Lukashenko when his opponents tell such lies.

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 8 2023 11:46 utc | 10

Thanks for the report B. Agreed, pardoning them was a wise decision.

Posted by: HT | Jun 8 2023 12:04 utc | 11

Protasevich and Sapega's responses to Lukashenko's pardons may well suggest the pair are ready to turn over a new leaf and start pursuing new paths - until perhaps their former friends who tried to get them in trouble on the Ryanair jet in the first place catch up with them and deal out punishment for Protasevich's supposed ratting on them. The two may well need some protection and might even have to consider moving to places in Belarus or Russia remote from where the regime-change crowd hangs out in the cities.

Posted by: Refinnejenna | Jun 8 2023 12:21 utc | 12

So the guy got tortured into saying what Lukashenko and Putin wanted him to say.

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 8 2023 11:46 utc | 10

Those reports on Lukashenko remind me of all those stories about Gen. Zaluzhnyi being killed....

Posted by: Inkan1969 | Jun 8 2023 13:06 utc | 13

Is really banned in Russia? I see them quoted regularly in Russian telegram channels and blogs, and know Russians who read them regularly.

Its Wikipedia page says so but it also has a Telegram channel that is open.

I like to read it because it has detailed news from Ukraine and a mostly neutral position.

Posted by: b | Jun 8 2023 14:13 utc | 14

They're young with their whole lives in front of them, i wish them health and happiness.

Posted by: annie | Jun 8 2023 14:16 utc | 15

Brendan, thank you for that link to Belta.

And most importantly, you will be able to direct your untapped potential and energy into projects that will make you feel good. There is nothing better than being free and doing what you love,” the governor stressed.

“That's right,” said the pardoned woman.

Posted by: annie | Jun 8 2023 14:26 utc | 16

thanks b... i am happy for all involved!

i immediately think of julian assange and the ''benevolent'' way the uk-usa empires have acted in recent memory..

Posted by: james | Jun 8 2023 14:30 utc | 17

Oh man b. When will you Germans ever get back the realism that gave us your admirable materialist, industrial renaissance of the latter half of the 19th Century? I suppose we can forever blame Kant.

Posted by: Simon | Jun 8 2023 16:10 utc | 18

Don't blame Kant for the cheap angloid cant that pours like vomitted pablum from the mouths of Germany's cadet imperialist politicians.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 8 2023 17:31 utc | 19

Meanwhile, in the Human Rights Respecting Democracy Loving Free West™®℠, Julian Assange rots in prison on bogus charges.

Thanks, Brandon (and Trump)!

Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | Jun 8 2023 18:22 utc | 20

When I see Trump continually hounded I'm reminded of the opportunity he had to pardon Assange but instead let loose a known Israeli spy.

Posted by: InnerCynic | Jun 8 2023 18:38 utc | 21

Trump was #MIGA so it's no surprise who got pardons and who didn't.

Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | Jun 8 2023 18:52 utc | 22

They lost their value as prisoners. Protasievich will have to stay in Belarus, while Sapega will be in Russia, without the right to enter Belarus. Sapega's parents wanted to save her, one way or another.

Posted by: ostro | Jun 8 2023 10:49 utc | 1

NYT article does not mention if Sapega will be allowed to visit Belarus, only that Protasevich posted a photo of a "local girl" that he wants to marry, so unclear that she plans to visit Belarus again. Somewhat strangely, NYT wrote that she was released "to the custody of a delegation from Primorye" (that has the main Russian port on Pacific Ocean and borders China + North Korea), presumably, the visiting governor let her fly together with his entourage to Moscow.

I guess that the governments involve prefer a narrative of misguided young people with a happy ending.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 8 2023 21:44 utc | 23

re: Tom_Q_Collins | Jun 8 2023 18:22 utc | 20
"Meanwhile, in the Human Rights Respecting Democracy Loving Free West™®℠, Julian Assange rots in prison on bogus charges."

spot on Tom Q.
can't have any admission of prosecutorial/judicial overreach and imperial arrogance by the US-Centralized Empire going after the greatest journalist of the 21st century....

You don't hear much bellyaching about the imprisonment of Assange from the glorious promoters of Freedom™ and Democracy® in the renowned & highly corporatized Free Press of the Western World, now do you? wondering why......

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jun 9 2023 5:37 utc | 24

I can't speak to the Belarus Black Book channel, but what I CAN say is that NEXTA went full-on evil following the 2020 presidential elections when their shill Svetlana T lost.

They repeatedly doxxed the hell out of every single election official and polling monitor they could find, many of whom were high school teachers (many polling places are located in schools, and teachers were glad to make a bit of cash for one day's work) rather than some high-up government elite type figures.

I'd say easily 80% of the people they doxxed were women. Scum of the earth is NEXTA, so doesn't surprise me at all that they knifed Roman (and Sofia) in the back.

Posted by: Sam (in Tiraspol) | Jun 9 2023 8:27 utc | 25

Here's a video of Sapega on her release.
I've no idea how genuine she was in thanking Lukashenko, but she does seem simply relieved to be free and does not look like she was under any pressure.

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 9 2023 12:16 utc | 26

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