Belarusian blogger arrested on Ryanair flight pardoned - state media
Protasevich told reporters: "I literally signed all relevant documents that state that I’ve been pardoned," BelTA reported. "This is great news."
Protasevich was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, for crimes including inciting terrorism and mass disturbances. He also slandered Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.
He was a journalist for the news outlet Nexta. Nexta reported extensively on the mass protests that took place against Lukashenko after the presidential election in 2020, which the opposition and Western governments deemed to be rigged.
All significant opposition figures were jailed or forced into exile during the clampdown that took place around the time of elections.
Stsiapan Rudik, the former editor of Nexta and Stsiapan putsila, its founder, were both sentenced to jail in absentia in the same court for 20 and 19 years respectively. Belarus declared Nexta a "terrorist organization" last year.
The arrest of Protasevich in May 2021 caused international outrage, and led to sanctions by the European Union against Lukashenko.Advertisement
Protasevich, after his arrest, was shown on television tearing up as he confessed to being involved in anti-government demonstrations and plotting the overthrow of Lukashenko. The exiled Belarusian opposition claimed that the confessions were false, and had been forced.
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