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Sofia Sapega was sentenced to six years in prison. Roman Protasevich promises "to share his support"


On the 6-th of May Grodnenski regional court in Belarus had sentenced a 24 year old citizen of Russia Sofia Sapega to six years in prison.

"Sapega was found guilty on charges of: deliberate acts aimed at inciting social enmity and discord on the basis of social affiliation committed by a group of persons, which had grave consequences; illegal collection and distribution of personal information, resulting in harm to the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of victims",- states the report.

Photo: Leonid Shcheglov/Tass/IMAGO

Sofia Sapega is a girlfriend of former "Nexta" chief editor Roman Protasevich. They were detained in May 2021 after an emergency landing of Ryanair flight in Minsk direction Athens-Vilnius.

Sofia was accused of running a Telegram channel "The Black Book of Belarus " that was sharing private information about civil servants.

At the time the case went on trial the prosecution counted 238 victims.

The Prosecution stated that discredit of the government and law enforcement was committed via telegram channels and Sapega was paid to manage it. All funds acquired through the “criminal activity” were already returned to the Belorussian treasury. 

As Sapega pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate, she was sentenced to half of the maximum possible 12 years imprisonment. 

Now she will have to pay compensation to the victims for the total amount 175 Belarusian rubles ( almost 70 thousand dollars) before she can seek pardon. 

Mother of Sofia says she has no contact with her daughter and has no idea what will happen next. 

“We haven’t spoken since October 2021. No letters, no messages. We only saw her in court on the 28 of March and today”.

Russia’s minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov in June last year informed that there is no issue with contacting Sapega, the situation is under special control of the ministry and the foundation that supports Russians abroad is helping to cover payment for the lawyer and promises that situation will be resolved soon.

The Press Secretary of the Russian Federation Dmitriy Peskov said that Moscow will not leave the situation with Sapega unattended: "she is a Russian citizen. With the help of our diplomats we will continue to support her legitimate rights". 

At the same time he didn’t comment whether Russia finds the sentence for Sapega fair. 

After detention Roman Protasevich started cooperating in regards to his criminal case and gave multiple interviews to Russian and Belorussian media.

Frame from the Video/RT

Basically, the former opposition representative became a main star of the state media. He was generously commenting the situation and participated in a press conference together with the representative of aviation control, informing that emergency landing of the aircraft prevented a possible explosion. He collaborated on their story and shared how happy he is to be home. Additionally, he condemned the actions of his former colleagues from "Nexta".

He was fascinated by “balls of steel” of Lukashenko. "Novaya Gazeta. Europe" informs that  Protasevich shared a lot of details about members of Belorussian opposition: who has more money, who bought real estate , who had problems with alcohol and who was granted an office space in Lithuanian free of charge. 

Currently Roman is under house arrest, but he is allowed to use the internet and move around the city. There is no information about further investigation in Roman Protasevich case.

While Sofia is preparing for her imprisonment, Protasevich shared the news about his marriage. The face of the newlywed wife was hidden: 

“Sonya was convicted because she committed a crime, not because we were in a relationship. Instead of throwing all the negativity at me, you better write a letter to Sonya.

She definitely needs support. And I will also write her a letter of support, as soon as there will be a chance for it. Regardless of the situation, I will always have warm feelings for her. 

Even if I’m married. But it’s a conversation for next time“. 


Protasevich says that the very flight to Vilnius was a last attempt to keep their relationships from falling apart. Now Roman is ok, formally he is under house arrest, but he is going to work, at the state controlled center “Human rights activist” and actively cooperating with the government.

He is happy for Sofia, and thinks that she is quite lucky:

 “6 years in prison is a harsh sentence. But taking into account  that her sentence could have been way longer, it’s not that bad of a verdict.“

By Irina Iakovleva

Sources: Новая газета. Европа,, Интерfакс,,,

Cover photo: EPA/Vostock-photo


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