Raman Pratasevich, a journalist aboard a passenger flight that was forcibly landed by the Belarusian authorities Monday, recorded a “confession” video message where he appeared to have been beaten.
“I can say that I am not experiencing any health-related issues, including those with my heart or any other organs,” Pratasevich said in the video, dispelling rumors about being in a critical condition due to a heart attack following the detention.
❗❗Raman Pratasevich, obviously beaten, says Lukashenka’s thugs treat him “correctly” and “lawfully”. He is in the Minsk Detention Center #1. Terrifying video. pic.twitter.com/d7Iuj9X4MD
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) May 24, 2021
“The officers are treating me as correctly and lawfully as possible. I am continuing my cooperation with the investigation and confessing to having organized mass protests in the city of Minsk,” Pratasevich added.
The journalist was one of the co-founders of a popular Telegram channel that called for nation-wide protests in August 2020. Millions of Belarusians took to the streets to protest alleged election fraud after President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term.
“I think he was forced. It’s not his words … not his intonation of speech,” Dmitry Pratasevich, the detained journalist’s father, said of the confession video in an interview with The Guardian.
Pratsevich’s father also speculated about possible injuries inflicted to his son as a result of torture by the Belarusian law enforcement.
“It’s very likely that his nose is broken, because the shape of it is changed,” Pratasevich said.
He also added that too much powder was applied on his son’s nose to apparently conceal the damage. (RELATED: Biden Admin Condemns ‘Shocking Act’ After Belarus Forces Down Passenger Plane, Seizes Journalist On Board)
Pratasevich’s girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, 23, was also escorted off the Ryanair flight that departed from Athens, Greece, and was bound Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, according to Reuters. She has also appeared in a similar confession statement.
Задержанная вместе с Романом Протасевичем гражданка России София Сапега назвала себя редактором telegram-канала, публикующего личные данные белорусских силовиков. Суд в Минске арестовал Сапегу на два месяца – на время следствия. pic.twitter.com/DL9nN6wfTc
— Искандер13 (@13iskander131) May 25, 2021
Sapega is a citizen of Russia but lives in Vilnius, she said in the video. She admitted to being an editor of the Telegram channel “Belarus’s Black Book” which was used to dox law enforcement officers.
She was returning from a vacation in Greece to defend her master’s thesis, but the Lukashenko-authorized cover operation has disrupted the plans, Reuters reported.