The Grodno Regional Court of Belarus sentenced Russian woman Sofya Sapega to six years in prison, who was arrested last year along with Belarusian opposition blogger Roman Protasevich after a forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk. She was charged under seven articles of the Criminal Code. About it informs human rights center “Spring”.
Sapieha will serve his sentence in a colony under general regime conditions. In the courtroom, she was taken into custody.
The Russian woman was assigned the maximum term of imprisonment, provided for by a pre-trial agreement with the investigation concluded by Sapega. She agreed to cooperate with investigators after her arrest.
The trial began on March 28 and was held behind closed doors. This was motivated by the fact that during the process it is planned to voice the personal data of a large number of citizens, including judges, prosecutors, employees of internal affairs bodies. Also, “this decision was made in order to prevent the spread of information of an extremist nature.”
The charge was brought under the following articles of the Criminal Code:
- Part 3 of Article 130 (“Commission of intentional actions aimed at inciting other social hatred, committed by an organized group of persons that entailed other grave consequences”);
- part 4 of article 16 and article 364 (“Organization of violence and threats of violence against an employee of the internal affairs body and his relatives in order to obstruct his lawful activities”);
- part 4 of article 16 and article 365 (“Organization of influence on an employee of the internal affairs bodies in order to change the nature of his legal activities by threatening to destroy and damage property, spreading slanderous information and divulging other information that he wants to keep secret”);
- part 4 of article 16 and part 1 of article 366 (“Organization of violence and threats of violence, destruction and damage to property against an official performing official duties”);
- Part 4 of Article 16 and Article 389 (“Organization of threats of murder, violence, destruction and damage to property against a judge and their relatives and threats of dissemination of slanderous and disclosure of other information that these persons wish to keep secret, committed in connection with the implementation of justice by a judge” );
- part 4 of article 16 and article 198 (“Organization of obstruction in any form of the legal professional activity of a journalist, forcing him to refuse to disseminate information, committed with the use of violence, with the threat of its use, destruction and damage to property, infringement of rights and legal interests of a journalist”);
- Parts 1 and 2 of Article 203-1 (“Deliberate illegal collection and dissemination of information about the private life and personal data of another person without his consent, which caused significant harm to the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of a citizen”).
According to investigators, Sofya Sapega administered the Black Book of Belarus telegram channel, which published the personal data of the Belarusian security forces. The channel itself has been declared extremist in Belarus. Last May, state TV channels aired a video where Sapieha said she was the editor of this telegram channel.
The Russian woman was detained on May 23, 2021 after the Belarusian authorities forcibly landed the Athens-Vilnius airliner in Minsk, in which she flew with the co-founder of the Nexta telegram channel Roman Protasevich.
Western countries sharply condemned the actions of Minsk, accusing the regime of Alexander Lukashenko of air piracy in order to kidnap a person. The main attention was drawn to the figure of Protasevich.
Shortly after his arrest, Protasevich began to speak in the Belarusian media criticizing his former associates. Subsequently, he was released from the detention center. The charges against him have not been dropped, but there is no reliable information about where he is now and what he is doing.