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Detained blogger admits guilt in organizing actions violating public order

Roman Protasevich was detained on May 23

MINSK, June 3. /TASS/. Blogger Roman Protasevich, one of the co-founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, which Minsk recognized as an extremist entity, who was detained at Minsk airport, has admitted his guilt in organizing and preparing actions violating public order.

"I admit being guilty under Article 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (organization of unsanctioned events). The calls that I published were instrumental in unrest breaking out in the streets and for three days Minsk was living in a state of chaos," he told the ONT TV channel.

Protasevich was detained on May 23. On that day, a Vilnius-bound Ryanair plane that took off from Athens made an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport after a reported bomb threat. After the landing, the plane was inspected and no bomb was found on board. Among the passengers on that flight was Protasevich who was wanted by Belarusian authorities. Protasevich was detained by law enforcement agents once the plane had landed in the Belarusian capital. Russian national Sofia Sapega was also detained together with him.

Nationwide demonstrations engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. The unrest has been cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been calling for more protests. According to the government, many rallies were coordinated via Telegram channels and groups on messengers and social networks.