Mum of journalist taken from 'hijacked' flight 'begging whole world to save him’

The mother of the incarcerated dissident journalist Roman Protasevich has called on the international community to rescue him.

Lithuanian-based blogger and companion Sofia Sapega were both taken into custody after Belarus messed up a fighter plane to intercept a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius.

It was diverted to Minsk on Sunday in an action condemned by the European Union and the US.

Protasevich, 26, who appeared on multiple channels on the Telegram messaging app on Monday, admitted having played a role in organizing mass disruptions in Minsk over the past year.

But for his father, Dzmitry Protasevich, the video seemed to be the result of coercion.

Mother Natalia Protasevich burst into tears today and said: “Please save him. You will kill him there.”

In an interview with AFP, the 26-year-old’s mother said she hadn’t slept in days and that she “grip her phone tightly and hope for news” about her son.

She said, “I ask, I ask, I call on the entire international community to save him.

“He’s just a journalist, he’s just a kid, but please, please. I ask for help. Please save him. You will kill him there.”

Previously, his father had questioned his son’s published video, which he described as the result of coercion.

Dzmitry Protasevich said: “It is likely that his nose was broken because the shape has changed and there is a lot of powder on it.

“The entire left side of his face has powder,” he told Reuters on Monday in a Russian interview from Wroclaw, Poland, where he and his wife live.

“It’s not his words, it’s not his intonation of the language. He’s very cautious and you can tell he’s nervous.”

The Belarusian Interior Ministry said Mr. Protasevich was in prison and did not complain about illness.

Natalia and Dmitry Protasevich

A Belarusian dog handler checks the luggage of the Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, airlines rerouted their flights to avoid Belarusian airspace and Belarusian planes may have been banned from Europe as international outrage over the incident increased.

Western nations have accused Belarus of kidnapping and piracy for intercepting the Ryanair plane as it crossed the country on a flight from Greece to Lithuania.

Diplomats said France, Ireland and Estonia would raise the incident at a private meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.

The White House said President Joe Biden would discuss the incident with Russian President Vladimir Putin at its summit next month, but added that the United States did not believe Moscow had a role in it.


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