On June 3, Belarusian television showed an interview with opposition activist Roman Protasevich, the 26-year-old who was arrested with his girlfriend in Minsk on May 23 this year after a much-publicized action against a passenger plane on its way from Athens to Vilnius. In the interview, Protasevich – who stated that he regretted his political activities and wanted to make amends – told in detail about the activities of the Belarusian opposition.
If you understand Russian, see the interview below.
The interview began with Protasevich assuring that he had been treated correctly after the arrest, and that he had voluntarily agreed to be interviewed.
Protasevich then stated that he had no doubt that it was members of the opposition who had provoked his arrest since he had not told anyone about the planned flight from Athens to Vilnius until he had revealed it on an internal chat just before the plane’s departure. He also said that at this time he had a private conflict with one of the opposition leaders, Daniil Bogdanovich.
Regarding his work for the opposition, Protasevich said he had called for violent demonstrations and riots through the news channel Nexta, of which he had been the editor. On the other hand, he denied being involved in the “Belarusian Black Book” project, an online list of people loyal to the Belarusian authorities, which has not only resulted in serious threats against these people, but also in assassination attempts and other terrorist acts.
Protasevich further stated that the opposition was obviously funded, supported and led by external forces, including Western intelligence services. “Much of what we were doing must have been organized by specialists. But what are the Belarusian opposition specialists in, apart from money laundering? ” He also said that Lithuania and Poland were politically rewarded by what he called the collective West for their support of the Belarusian opposition. At the same time, he said that he knew little concrete about how the opposition was financed since he had never been initiated into this.
Regarding the relationship between the opposition leaders, Protasevich said that this was characterized by conflicts over money and positions, and that all of the opposition leaders lived a luxurious life in Poland or Lithuania.
About Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the most famous of the opposition leaders and the opposition’s candidate in the 2020 presidential election, Protasevich said she was willing to accept a violent coup in Belarus. He also said that the opposition had made contacts with senior Belarusian military personnel who, for a high fee, and the evacuation of their families, were willing to take part in a coup.
As for his own relationship with the opposition, Protasevich declared that he had gradually lost faith in the opposition’s calls for demonstrations and protests since it was clear that ordinary Belarusians had grown tired of the opposition’s actions. This lack of confidence in the opposition’s established form of activity he claimed had resulted in conflicts with several of the opposition leaders who believed that demonstrations were necessary to create sanctions that could destroy the Belarusian economy and thus bring about a regime change in Belarus. According to Protasevich, these conflicts must have become so sharp that in the spring of 2021 he was about to be pushed out of his position as editor of Nexta.
Protasevich himself – in contrast to when he was shown on television shortly after his arrest – seemed calm and relaxed during the interview. When the interviewer, the Belarusian star journalist Marat Markov, confronted him with his affiliation with the right-wing extremist militia Azov and participation in the war against the insurgent population in eastern Ukraine in 2014-15 – as well as with the fact that the authorities in the People’s Republic of Lugansk wanted to extradite him so he could be prosecuted for war crimes – however, he broke down. And the interview ended with a crying Protasevich – who had been asked how he managed to sleep with everything he had on his conscience – asked for forgiveness for the wrong he had done and promised full cooperation during the investigation.
According to Markov, the original recording of the interview had been over four hours. But for the sake of the ongoing investigation against Protasevich, only an excerpt could be shown on television. There may therefore be further revelations of the Belarusian opposition’s activities in connection with the upcoming trial against the opposition activist. What emerged during the edited interview, however, was more than sufficient to paint an anything but flattering picture of the opposition whose leaders appeared to be power-hungry, greedy, and cynical people who, in collaboration with foreign intelligence services and other foreign circles, were willing to draw ordinary people into terror and acts of violence to realize their ambitions.
Read about the plane deal and the arrest of Protasevich in this automated translation from Norwegian.
Read about the opposition’s attempt to seize power in connection with the presidential election in Belarus in August 2020, also an automated translation.
Kristian Kahrs describes himself as a former NATO aggressor and warmonger in Kosovo, turned into a warrior for peace, democracy, and freedom of speech. Kristian is a Norwegian living in Belgrade, Serbia, and there is more about him on his website ohrabrenje.com, the Serbian word for encouragement, where you can sign up for his newsletter. Also, follow Kristian on Gab, Telegram, and VK.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.