Belarus authorities release second confessional video

Elias Hubbard
Мая 26, 2021

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko delivers a speech during a meeting with parliamentarians, members of the Constitutional Commission and representatives of public administration bodies, in Minsk, Belarus.

"Additional sanctions? Will this be sufficient?" But, he added: "The unacceptable character of what happened ... justifies them".

Exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Wednesday the opposition was preparing a new phase of active anti-government protests.

"And we will use all channels at our disposal to do this", she added.

The 26-year-old journalist and activist was arrested Sunday after Belarusian flight controllers ordered the Ryanair jetliner he was aboard to land, telling the crew that there was a bomb threat against the flight.

This latest confessional video comes as airlines were forced on Tuesday to re-route flights to avoid Belarus's airspace. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) "caution" came on the heels of its European counterpart advising both EU and non-EU airlines to avoid Belarus airspace except in emergencies.

"A decision to land the plane was not ours", he said.

-- Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed.

Lukashenko promised to respond harshly to any sanctions. They said the bloc will introduce more sanctions targeting businesses that are the main cash earners for Lukashenko's regime.

Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said the country could halt Western cargo shipments via Belarus.

"They're going to kill him in there".

Lukashenko insisted that the actions of his forces were "super professional".

"The lives of more than 170 passengers were endangered here to arrest a journalist". But he has only increased the crackdown, and more than 35,000 people have been arrested since the protests began, with thousands beaten.

The EU agreed on Monday to widen the list of Belarusian individuals they already sanction.

"We had to do what we did to ensure safety in the air and most importantly on the ground".

"I continue to cooperate with the investigation and have confessed to organizing mass riots in the city of Minsk", he also said. "Belarus is facing an acute human rights crisis. amid unprecedented political repressions".

Protasevich, who left Belarus in 2019, has become a top foe of Lukashenko with a popular messaging app he ran playing a key role in helping organize the huge protests, and authorities have increasingly tried to limit his influence.

Belarus's authoritarian president on Wednesday defended his action to divert a European flight that triggered bruising European Union sanctions and accused the West of waging a "hybrid war" to "strangle" the ex-Soviet nation.

Pratasevich had been charged in absentia with staging mass riots and fanning social hatred.

Belarusian authorities said Monday that Protasevich was not hospitalized and was being held in a detention center in Minsk, a claim that could not be verified from the video.

Sapega, a 23-year-old law student at the European Humanities University (EHU) in Lithuania, appeared in another video on Tuesday, saying she worked for a Telegram channel that disclosed information about Belarusian police. "A preventive measure was chosen - detention for a period of two months", her lawyer Alexander Filanovich told Russian media.

Tsikhanouskaya also pushed for the G-7 to invite a Belarusian opposition delegation to its summit in London next month and thanked Macron for supporting her bid.

A Hamas spokesman denied the group had any knowledge of, or connection to, the note, according to media reports.

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