The court sentenced Roman Protasevich, former editor-in-chief of the Nexta Telegram channel, to 8 years in prison. It is reported by "Mediazona Belarus". The second founder of the channel, Stepan Putilo, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the administrator, Jan Rudik, to 19 years.
Putilo and Rudik are abroad, they were sentenced in absentia. Protasevich listened to the verdict in the courtroom. He came to the meeting with things, RIA Novosti reports .
In April, Protasevich was charged with a new, tougher charge of re-leading an extremist formation. The same accusation was brought against Jan Rudik, who is abroad. This article of accusation (part 2 of article 361-1 of the Criminal Code) provides for up to ten years in prison. According to the investigation, Protasevich was the editor-in-chief of Nexta in May-September 2020 and, together with other defendants, led this “extremist formation.” Then he moved from Warsaw to Vilnius and until May 2021 led another “extremist formation” – the Telegram channel and social networks “Belarus of the Brain”, promoting the opposition agenda there.
Protasevich was under investigation along with his Russian girlfriend Sofya Sapega after they were removed from the flight. To arrest the couple, the Belarusian authorities on May 23, 2021, on the orders of Alexander Lukashenko, landed a Ryanair plane en route from Athens to Vilnius with the help of a bombing report. A fighter jet was raised into the sky to escort the passenger aircraft. Protasevich was accused of inciting social hatred, organizing riots and organizing actions that grossly violate public order. Sapieha was charged with inciting social hatred, as well as participating in riots. The couple began to cooperate with the investigation and was released under house arrest. After that, Roman Protasevich repeatedly appeared in the state media of Belarus. On the air of the ONT TV channel, he said that he respects Alexander Lukashenko and considers him "a man with balls of steel."
Sapega was sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of illegally collecting and disseminating "information about private life constituting the personal and family secrets of another person, without his consent, which caused harm to the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of the victim." According to the prosecution, Sapieha was involved in the administration of the Black Book of Belarus, a Telegram channel that published the personal data of security officials involved in bullying protesters. In April 2023, she was allowed to be transferred to Russia.