Yesterday, the jailed Belarusian blogger Raman Pratasevich appeared on Belarus' state TV and showed support for the regime. Senior advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Franak Viačorka, "Raman Pratasevich unexpectedly reappeared in the headline news of the regime’s TV. Now he is an employee of the pro-governmental "Legal protection system", though still under house arrest. The new Raman says the West provokes war, & the hijacking of the plane was orchestrated."
Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were detained in May 2021 when Belarus scrambled a military jet to escort their Athens-to-Vilnius Ryanair flight to land in Minsk. Many countries condemned the action ordered by Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko as a "state hijacking" of a passenger aircraft, and this prompted harsh sanctions from Western countries. Belarusian authorities had claimed they acted because of a bomb threat that proved to be false and have condemned the sanctions, even filing a report to the UN’s civil aviation agency (ICAO) asking the agency to review the sanctions as illegal.
Since the end of June last year Raman has been held in house arrest. Sapega on the other hand, was charged in December with "inciting hatred" and with heading a Telegram channel that published personal data of Belarusian security forces, which the Belarusian authorities have classified as an "extremist group". Sapega risks up to six years in prison.
Earlier in January, the ICAO released its first official investigation about the detaining of Protasevich and Sapega, where the ICAO investigative team expressed dissatisfaction with the Belarusian authorities' explanations. Soon after the ICAO report was released, a US court returned an indictment which charged four Belarusian state officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy.