Ryanair flight Russian asks for pardon
Sofia Sapega, the Russian partner of the detained political activist Roman Protasevich, has applied for clemency from the Belarusian president, after being charged with inciting social hatred, her stepfather has revealed.
Speaking to radio station Echo of Moscow, Sergey Dudich said that Sapega had asked Alexander Lukashenko to let her off with the charges, which could see her spend many years behind bars.
“Such a decision may be taken only after the trial. But we still hope for a presidential pardon. I know that Sofia has written a petition for clemency to the president of Belarus,” said Dudich.
Sapega was arrested in May this year, when her Ryanair flight was instructed to land in Minsk while it was transiting the country’s airspace between Greece and Lithuania. She was alongside her partner Protasevich, best known for being the former editor of Belarusian opposition Telegram channel NEXTA.
The plane was told to land after air traffic control warned pilots they had received a threat that a bomb was on board and scrambled a fighter jet to escort it. Once on the ground, the plane was boarded, and Protasevich and Sapega were taken into custody. The events were later dubbed “state-sponsored piracy,” with suggestions that the bomb-threat plot was faked to arrest the couple.
Sapega is accused of inciting social hatred and organizing violence, as well as the intentional illegal collection and dissemination of information about the private life of another person without their consent. Under the social hatred charge, the most serious of the lot, she could be sentenced to 12 years behind bars.