Detained Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich appeared again on state television and made a confession that many said was conducted under duress, condemning it as “propaganda.”
In his third appearance on state TV channel ONT, Protasevich on June 3 “pleaded guilty” to organizing massive “unsanctioned protests” against the government after the presidential elections last August widely dismissed as rigged.
Protasevich praised President Alexander Lukashenko told the show “Nothing Persona” that he has begun “to understand that he was doing the right thing and I certainly respect him.”
Crying before the camera, Protasevich said he never wants to get involved in politics again.
“I want to hope that I can correct everything and live an ordinary peaceful life, to have a family, children, stop running away from something,” Protasevich said.
Although Protasevich said that he was speaking on his own free will, his family, said the interview was conducted under duress.
“I know my son very well and I believe that he would never say such things. They broke him and forced him to say what was needed,” Protasevich’s father Dmitry told AFP News.
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s adviser Frank Viačorka called Protasevich a “hostage of the regime.”
“It’s painful to see the ‘confessions’ of Raman Pratasevich. His parents believe he was tortured. This is not Raman I know,” Viačorka said on Twitter, urging for the journalist’s release.
Earlier this week, Protasevich also appeared in an “investigative documentary” about the Ryanair flight incident.
The government last May 23 diverted a Ryanair flight headed to Lithuania from Greece, in which Protasevich was a passenger. Police then arrested him when the plane arrived in Minsk.
The documentary stressed that authorities were not aware that Protasevich was onboard the plane.