Concerns are rising for Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen who is the girlfriend of detained Belarus activist Roman Protasevich. The 23-year-old was also detained in Minsk along with Protasevich after a bomb scare on a Ryanair flight that was originally bound from Athens in Greece to Vilnius in Lithuania. Sapega recently appeared in a “confession” video in which she said that she was an editor of a Telegram messaging application channel that had promoted the personal data of Belarusian law enforcement personnel, which is a crime in the country.
According to BBC, Sapega’s mother cast doubt on her daughter’s freedom while the released video was recorded. In a statement, she said about her daughter, “She sways, eyes in the sky - as if afraid of forgetting something...I enlarged [the video] as much as possible - it seems that [she looks] okay”. The mother added, “We are now packing warm clothes, we will go to Minsk. I want to try to give her a parcel - I saw she only had a thin jacket”.
Sapega is a Russian citizen who lives in Vilnius, Lithuania. She is a student at the European Humanities University (EHU) in the Faculty of International Law and European Union Law program. EHU has demanded Sapega’s release. It said that she had been detained in Minsk on “groundless and made-up conditions” while flying back to continue her Master’s thesis.
EHU in a statement had said, “Sofia's group mates and faculty members say that the student is well regarded due to her academic performance and reputation in EHU's community”.
Sapega had been vacationing with Protasevich in Greece before they were detained. The couple had been on a holiday and had known each other for around six months after meeting in a bar. A friend of the 23-year-old told The Sun that Sapega is “very sympathetic, friendly and courteous”.
Meanwhile, in a fast and uncomfortable manner, the 23-year-old Russian national made the so-called ‘confession’ in the released video. Her lawyer also told a Russian media outlet without giving further details that “Today Sofia was interrogated. She was accused of committing a criminal offence. A preventive measure was chosen – detention for a period of two months...The lawyers have signed non-disclosure agreements.” presently, she is in a Belarusian intelligence service’s pre-trial detention centre in Minsk.
Sapega said in her video appearance, “I am Sapega Sofia Andreevna, I was born on 10 February 1998. I am a citizen of the Russian Federation, I live in Lithuania – Vilnius...On 23 May 2021, I flew on the same plane with Roman Protasevich. I am also editor of Telegram channel Chernaya Kniga which publishes private information about internal affairs officers”.
I am shocked. They keep Raman's girlfriend Sofia a hostage. She is held in prison, her lawyer is in touch with her. She is guilty of being a friend of Roman. And they forced her to confess to "crimes" she did not commit. Raman and Sofia must be released immediately. pic.twitter.com/5OiSBkgzEZ— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) May 25, 2021