A Day After a Belarusian Dissident's 'Confession,' His Girlfriend Makes Her Own

Clay Curtis
May 26, 2021

The European Union said it was eyeing fresh sanctions on Lukashenko's regime after the plane incident.

In his first public statement since the Ryanair flight was diverted and opposition journalist Roman Protasevich arrested on Sunday, Lukashenko dismissed the global outcry the incident provoked.

"I acted lawfully to protect our people", Lukashenko said in an address to parliament.

On Sunday, Belarus used the pretext of a bogus bomb threat to force the aircraft to land in Minsk.

Lukashenko on Wednesday denied that the fighter jet had forced the airliner to land, calling such claims an "absolute lie". Ryanair has said its crew was instructed to land.

"Our ill-wishers at home and overseas have changed their methods of attacking the state", Lukashenko said.

The 66-year-old Belarusian leader, who has ruled over the ex-Soviet nation for more than two decades, decried "our detractors from outside and inside" for "crossing red lines" and "waging hybrid warfare" against Belarus. Lukashenko - often dubbed "Europe's last dictator" - is facing some of the strongest global pressure of his almost 27-year rule of ex-Soviet Belarus.

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It is not now listed as a public exposure site as the Department has access to records of everyone who attended the hospital. Anyone who visited that site in that window must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days from the date of exposure.

Lukashenko has faced unprecedented pressure at home with months of protests triggered by his reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that the opposition rejected as rigged.

European leaders have described Protasevich's arrest as a state-sponsored hijacking and kidnapping, and on Monday called on airlines not to fly over Belarus, while barring Belarusian airlines from EU airspace and airports. The journalist's father, Dmitry Pratasevich, said his son must have been forced to make the confession. In it, she says that she edits a Telegram channel - Black Book of Belarus - which publishes the personal information of security officials in the country.

Her lawyer said she had been ordered held for two months of pre-trial detention and Russian Federation confirmed she was being detained as a criminal suspect.

Before her arrest, Sofia managed to write just one word to her mother on WhatsApp: "Mummy".

"I'm asking, I'm begging, I'm calling on the whole worldwide community to save him", Natalia Protasevich said, weeping. "I urge you very much because they will kill him, they will kill him", Natalia Pratasevich said through tears during an interview in Poland.

The EU agreed on Monday to widen the list of Belarusian individuals they already sanction.

But he continues to enjoy solid support from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is hosting the Belarusian leader on Friday. CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports.

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