Dissident journalist Roman Protasevich has been filmed appearing to praise Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in a new video. In the clip, recorded for Belarusian state-controlled TV, Mr Protasevich was asked whether he respected the president, to which he replied: “Absolutely.” Mr Protasevich, 26, said Mr Lukashenko has “acted like a man with balls of steel”, despite the “pressure” of resistance movements like his.
A Belarusian activist stabbed his own throat during a court hearing in Minsk on Tuesday, according to local human rights watchdog Viasna 96. According to the organization, Steffan Latypov, who is facing allegations of organizing protests and resisting arrest, stabbed himself in the neck during the hearing because of alleged threats from authorities against his family if he didn’t plead guilty.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Wednesday a journalist pulled off a plane that was forced to land in Minsk had been plotting a rebellion, and he accused the West of waging a hybrid war against him. In his first public remarks since a Belarusian warplane intercepted a Ryanair flight on Sunday, he showed no hint of backing down from confrontation with countries that accuse him of air piracy.
Several European airlines have said that they will not fly over Belarus, days after a dissident journalist was arrested on a flight diverted to Minsk. Air France is the latest major carrier to ban overflights. Neighboring Ukraine and Poland are stopping all flights to and from Belarus. Western countries accuse Belarus of hijacking the Ryanair plane carrying journalist Roman Protasevich on Sunday.
Western countries have condemned Belarus for diverting a plane flying over its territory to arrest an opposition journalist. EU leaders are due to discuss their response to what the union’s executive called a “hijacking” and the US state department said was “a shocking act”. Belarus scrambled a fighter jet to force the plane – bound for Lithuania – to land, claiming a bomb threat. Police took Roman Protasevich away when passengers disembarked.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko ignored an opposition ultimatum to quit Monday as local media showed factory workers and students protesting as part of an intended general strike. The streets of the capital Minsk were largely deserted on Monday morning, reported the news agency AFP. Lukashenko’s refusal to resign over claims his August 9 reelection was rigged followed renewed mass protests Sunday.
The UK has imposed sanctions on the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, his son and six other senior government officials judged to be responsible for rigging the August presidential poll and suppressing subsequent street protests. The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, announced the sanctions on Tuesday in coordination with a similar move from Canada. The sanctions include an asset freeze and travel ban imposed on Lukashenko himself.
The EU has said it does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the president of Belarus, a day after he was sworn in for a sixth term at a secret ceremony. The bloc’s diplomatic chief said the unannounced inauguration, as well as his disputed re-election last month, lacked “any democratic legitimacy”. The opposition says the poll was rigged in Mr Lukashenko’s favor.
A prominent Belarusian opposition leader is facing up to five years in prison after she was charged with incitement to undermine national security, authorities in the eastern European country said Wednesday. Maria Kolesnikova called for “actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security” using the media and the Internet, the country’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The embattled president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is meeting his last ally standing Monday, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, less than 24 hours after more than 100,000 people took to the streets in the latest protest to demand his resignation. The pair are to hold a “working meeting” at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi — their first face-to-face meeting since a protest movement emerged across Belarus after the contested Aug. 9