Sofya Sapega, Russian prisoner in Belarus, denied free pardon

Russian national Sofya Sapega who was convicted to six years in Belarusian prison earlier has been denied free pardon, her lawyer Anton Gashinsky has told Mediazona.Belarus.

The young woman was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting enmity” in May. The investigators believe that she was connected with the Black Book of Belarus Telegram channel which published personal data of Belarusian security officers, officials, judges, and journalists.

Sapega is also charged with six more Criminal Code articles, including “unauthorised gathering and spreading information regarding private life of individuals”.

Andrey Sapega, Sofya’s father, paid a 175,000 BYN [roughly $68,000] fine ruled by court and awarded to 70 security officers, officials, and judges the court considered victims of Sapega’s crime in late June. Gashinsky noted that paying the fine was one of the key conditions that could have qualified his client for free pardon.

Sapega asked the Belarusian president Alyaksandar Lukashenka for free pardon in late June. “I just want to be next to my family… I want to breathe freely,” she wrote.

Lukashenka promised he would consider delivering Sapega to Russia, saying he was “feeling bad for the girl”.

On 23 May, 2021, the Belarusian law enforcement arrested Sofia Sapega alongside her boyfriend, co-creator of the NEXTA Telegram channel Roman Protasevich, after their Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk.

After Sapega’s arrest, a pro-government Telegram channel Zheltye Slivy published a video of her “interrogation”, in which Sofia admitted that she was running a Telegram channel called The Black Book of Belarus.

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