The Belarusian authorities have temporarily tightened restrictions on the movement of citizens, allowing only those with permanent residence in other countries and public officials to travel abroad. The announcement came in the midst of tensions between Belarus and the European Union due to the order of the Belarusian regime to hijack a Ryanair flight to the capital Minsk with the aim of arresting the opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, who was on board. In the days following the hijacking, several European airlines had avoided flying over Belarusian airspace and the European Union had spoken out against the authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko, announcing that he would impose new economic sanctions. The restrictions were officially introduced for reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the years, many Belarusian journalists, intellectuals and opposition politicians have left the country due to the authoritarian rule of Lukashenko and the growing repression of dissent. Among these, both Protasevich and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko’s main political opponent and candidate in the presidential elections, had moved to Lithuania.
Lukashenko confirmed that Protasevich will be tried in Belarus, as well as his fiancée, Sofia Sapega, who is a Russian citizen and was arrested with him in Minsk. Meanwhile, today another young activist who had been arrested by the regime on suspicion of organizing an anti-government protest, Stepan Latypau, tried to cut his throat during a hearing in a Minsk court: before doing so, Latypau has said the security forces had threatened to indict his family and neighbors if he did not confess his faults.
Warning: the video contains strong images
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