Roman Protasevich, the former editor-in-chief of the Telegram channel Nexta, a media outlet that extensively covered the protests in Belarus following the disputed presidential elections in August 2020, revealed that he had been granted a pardon, according to reports from Belta.

Speaking to reporters in Minsk, Protasevich expressed his relief, stating, “I’ve just signed the paperwork saying that I have been pardoned. This is certainly simply great news.”

The Minsk Regional Court sentenced Protasevich to eight years in prison on May 3, 2023, finding him guilty on multiple charges, including publicly inciting the seizure of state power, acts of terrorism, insulting the president, spreading false information about Belarus, and other offences. In total, Protasevich faced charges under 11 articles of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

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Meanwhile, the founder of Nexta, Stepan Putilo, received a 20-year prison sentence, and the former editor of the Telegram channel, Iana Rudik, was sentenced to 19 years. Both Putilo and Rudik were tried in absentia as they currently reside abroad.

Roman Protasevich was arrested on May 23, 2021, when Belarusian authorities forced the Ryanair plane, traveling from Athens to Vilnius, to make an emergency landing in Minsk, citing a bomb threat.

The subsequent investigation conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) revealed that the bomb threat was a deliberate fabrication instructed by high-ranking Belarusian officials.

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Following his detention, Protasevich initially claimed to be cooperating with the investigation to “atone for the harm” he allegedly caused to the country. However, his parents publicly expressed skepticism about his statements, citing concerns that they were made under duress.

Protasevich’s girlfriend, Russian citizen Sofia Sapega, was also detained during the incident with the plane. In May 2022, she received a six-year sentence in Belarus on charges of ‘incitement to hostility.’ However, in April of this year, Belarus initiated the process of repatriating Sapega to Russia.

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