In May 2021, Sofia Sapega was arrested in a sensational action in Minsk. The Russian is a critic of the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko. Now Sapega begs for mercy and admits "stupidity". The conditions under which the atonement comes about are doubtful.
In Belarus, a prominent government critic has asked ruler Alexander Lukashenko for a pardon after a year in prison. Russian-born Sofia Sapega was arrested in May last year when a European passenger plane was forced to land in Minsk.
Her arrest - together with her then partner Roman Protassewitsch - caused an international sensation. The two were on a flight within Europe in a Ryanair plane that was forced to land over Belarusian territory. The EU therefore imposed an airspace ban on Belarus.
Protasevich, former editor-in-chief of the opposition news channel Nexta, had previously withdrawn his criticism of Lukashenko, the long-term ruler, from prison and apologized. Observers attribute the supposed change of heart to massive pressure from the authorities. Lukashenko was elected president for the sixth time in the summer of 2020, which led to nationwide protests. The election is not recognized internationally because of suspected manipulation.