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Belarus: Roman Protasevich 'confession' was 'televised coercion' by the government

Roman Protasevich speaking at a rally
Roman Protasevich speaking at a rally © Michal Fludra/NurPhoto/Getty

Following the broadcast yesterday of a forced ‘confession’ by Roman Protasevich, Marie Struthers, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, said: 

“Roman Protasevich’s forced ‘confession’ on Belarusian state TV was devastating to watch. He was clearly on the edge of breaking down, in tears and with visible wounds on his wrists, as he was forced to incriminate himself and praise his captors.

“The degrading and humiliating ‘interview’ shows that Roman is under intolerable psychological pressure and it amounts to ill-treatment. It was clearly a televised coercion.

“Roman has been deprived of his liberty and is facing a lengthy prison term solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Those behind this travesty must be held accountable.

“We call on governments to do their utmost to end the human rights crisis in Belarus. All perpetrators of torture, killings and other crimes under international law in Belarus must be held accountable in accordance with international law, and justice must be enacted.” 

Background 

Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian journalist and blogger who co-founded the popular opposition Telegram channel NEXTA, was arrested on 23 May after his Lithuania-bound Ryanair flight was diverted and forced to land in Minsk.

Yesterday evening, Belarus’ state-run TV channel ONT aired an ‘interview’ with him during which he confessed to plotting anti-government protests and praised Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

As he was questioned by host Marat Markau, Protasevich cried several times and covered his face with his hands, showing he is distressed and has visible marks on his wrists.

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