Detained Belarusian Journalist Roman Protasevich Attends Government Press Conference

Detained Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich attended a press conference on June 14 in Minsk, where government officials briefed reporters on the Ryanair flight incident last month.

“Everything is fine with me. Nobody beat me, nobody touched me,” Protasevich told reporters as he sat beside uniformed military chiefs.

“I feel wonderful, I have no complaints,” Protasevich also said, adding that attending the briefing was his “personal choice.”

Protasevich also said that he was prepared to be held responsible for his crimes.

“I understand the damage I have caused not only to the state but also to the country. Now I want to do everything in my power to rectify this situation,” Protasevich said, echoing the comments he made in state television 10 days after his arrest.

However, some have accused the government of holding Protasevich “hostage.”

“No matter what he says, let’s not forget: he is a hostage. And the regime is using him as a trophy,” Franak Viacorka, a senior adviser to exiled Belarusian opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said on Twitter.

BBC Journalist Jonah Fisher said that Protasevich was “clearly there under duress.”

Government officials said they diverted the Ryanair flight headed to Lithuania from Greece last May 23 due to an alleged bomb threat. A fighter jet accompanied the plane to Minsk where police then arrested Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Superga.

“There was no interception, no forced diversion from the state border or forced landing of the Ryanair plane,” Belarus Air Force Chief Igor Golub said at the conference.

However, Minsk-based journalist Hanna Liubakova said that the government was “creating a completely different reality” on the Ryanair incident, adding that President Alexander Lukashenko was “desperately trying to invent new excuses and propaganda tricks.”

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