LUGANSK, June 3. /TASS/. Blogger Roman Protasevich, currently detained in Minsk, took part in combat operations in Ukraine that qualify as crimes against Donbass, Envoy of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) at the Minsk peace talks, LPR Foreign Minister Vladislav Deinego said on Thursday.
"As for Protasevich, perhaps, not only Lugansk but also Donetsk possibly has questions in this context. This is because the information available to us suggests that Protasevich was in the ranks of a nationalist formation, the so-called Azov volunteer battalion. Beyond any doubt, his actions as part of his service in that battalion can be deemed as a crime against Donbass," the news agency LuganskInformCenter quoted Deinego as saying.
The LPR envoy stressed it was necessary to clarify all the circumstances but a question had arisen about how to do that in the current situation now that Protasevich had been apprehended by Belarusian authorities in Minsk. "Our Prosecutor General’s Office has already initiated work in this direction. Such possibilities are being discussed," the envoy added.
The LPR Prosecutor General’s Office earlier appealed to the law enforcement agencies of Belarus to grant an opportunity to conduct investigative procedures with the suspect Protasevich in the LPR.
Earlier, the LPR launched a criminal case against Protasevich on suspicion that he voluntarily joined the Azov battalion outlawed in the LPR and later took part in hostilities in Donbass between the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015 as a deputy commander of the second shock and assault squadron of the battalion.
On June 2, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that LPR investigators could visit Protasevich.
Protasevich who is one of the founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, deemed extremist in Belarus, was among the passengers of the Ryanair flight that made an emergency landing at Minsk Airport on May 23 due to a bomb threat. A subsequent search after the aircraft had touched down in the Belarusian capital failed to find any information confirming this fact. The Belarusian Investigative Committee opened a criminal probe into a false bomb scare. Protasevich was taken into custody by Belarusian law enforcement agents.