The intervention of the Roman Protasevich faction against Lukashenko began several years before the major summer protests, sparked by the Belarusian President’s decision to hold on to power after the election.
Franak Viacorka, the aide to Belarus’s opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, first met a 26-year-old freedom fighter in 2011, long before he set a target for a Ryanair flight last week. In the past, Protasevich was one of the few young men to hold anti-government protests.
In the years that followed, however, Protasevich became an opposition figure by working for various media outlets in his home country, including Radio Free Europe, and as editor of Nexta, one of the most independent media groups in Belarus.
“Many Belarusian activists realized ten years ago that violence is not enough to win, and that journalism can do so much. At the same time, journalism cannot win on its own.
“They act rashly. It’s a maker. They will not accept injustice, ”he added.
Protasevich is now embroiled in the midst of an international conflict against Belarus against the EU, the UK and the US, a flight to Vilnius that he flew to Athens on Sunday was diverted from Belarus airport under Lukashenko. The worker was arrested shortly after the flight to Minsk.
“It seems [Belarus’s KGB] he was following me at the airport, “he told his friends via a text message before boarding.” In any case – the worst of the worst. “
The opening, which has been filmed worldwide opposition and demonstrating reconciliation between the Belarusian and Western powers, has confirmed the extent to which Lukashenko is ready to go on to challenge his opponents as he seeks to reinstate after major protests last year.
Protasevich, who left Belarus in 2019 and now lives in Vilnius, was indicted in Belarus in November and was charged with three counts of conspiracy, the most serious of which is imprisonment for up to 15 years.
Belarusian security forces have been ordered to prosecute dissidents “in any way,” according to Dzianis Melyantsou, an expert on the Minsk Dialogue Council on International Relations.
“The point is clear: to show that going forward, if you respect your life, you will not do anything in Belarus,” he said.
It was at Nexta that Protasevich’s twin sisters as freedom fighters and journalists reached out to many of their audiences. As Lukashenko struggled to cope with the protests that blew him up last summer, Nexta’s methods – among the few to be able to shut down the internet – became a source of public awareness. Nexta TV has more than 1.2m subscribers, in a world of 9.4m.
“My son was always very fond of lies. That’s why he became a journalist,” his father, Dmitry Protasevich, told FT. “The big problem is that government officials fear even the slightest freedom of speech, protest, or independent media that tells the truth.”
Nexta did not just mention the protests. It has also helped to connect them, giving the exhibitors everything from the collection information, clothing and how to avoid security. As editor-in-chief, Protasevich was at the center of the incident, Nexta’s founder Stsiapan Putsila told FT.
“Now the government is taking revenge,” Putsila said.
In recent months, Belarusian authorities have been cracking down on independent journalists and readers over urban dwellers who stage protests.
Last week, Belarus shut down Tut.by, a popular independent site, and ordered 15 employees to evade taxes. Several local newspapers were banned from publishing types of printing and thus the arrival of workers in Belarus, which is Lukashenko’s personal support.
Protasevich may have changed his mind after leaving Nexta last September to try to reach out to Belarusians, Igor Trushkevich, a Belarusian opposition to Ukrainian slavery, told FT. Protasevich has been overseeing Belamova, another opposition channel on the Telegraph program, with 260,000 subscribers.
Mr Lukashenko’s administration said it was fighting protesters outside April when the Russian FSB – a successor to the Soviet KGB – arrested two protesters in Moscow and handed them over to Belarus.
Belarus’s top crime watchdog has vowed to “find and remove” foreign opponents: “We remind our opponents, bloodthirsty, that we all know them,” said Interior Minister Nikolai Karpenkov. We know where they are, who they are talking to, who their home is, and who their families are. “Let them know that retaliation is inevitable.”
Protasevich’s arrest has caused quite a stir through Belarus’ protest against slavery – mainly because Tsikhanouskaya and some of his party also crossed the same route from Athens back to their Lithuanian capital, Lithuania, last week.
“It’s amazing, it’s destructive, it changes so much. . . It inspires people all over the world, but I’m afraid that tomorrow the world will forget, “said Viacorka.
“If white people do not want North Korea in the middle of Europe, if they do not want passenger planes to be shot down, they must take action. . . It is no longer a matter of domestic law in Belarus, but of security in Europe here. ”