Russian national and girlfriend of opposition blogger Roman Protasevich, Sofia Sapega, is due to be released from house arrest today
Russian national and girlfriend of opposition blogger Roman Protasevich, Sofia Sapega, is due to be released from house arrest today after a Belarus court extended her pretrial detention.
Sapega was arrested in May along with journalist and activist Roman Protasevich after President Lukashenko ordered their Ryanair flight to divert and land in Minsk.
Sapega was charged on December 8 with inciting social hatred, damaging information security, mishandling private data, and threatening law enforcement. If convicted, she could face up to six years in prison. Sapega has been caught in a proxy political battle, as the Belarusian security forces target boyfriend Protasevich for his activities.
If Sapega is indicted, which will likely happen, expect the international community to react and take measures against Lukashenko and his government. At the beginning of December, the EU, UK, US, and Canada imposed coordinated sanctions on Belarus as punishment for human rights abuses. These nations may elect to impose new sanctions if Belarus persecutes Sapega. Concurrently, however, an aggressive international reaction to a future indictment of Sapega may result in the strengthening of ties between Russia and Belarus who will seek a unified front against the international response.
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