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Sapega's Mother Gets First Letters From Daughter In Belarusian Prison

Sofia Sapega poses for a picture in Gothenburg, Sweden, in a photo taken in 2019.

The family of Sofia Sapega, the girlfriend of Belarusian opposition activist Raman Pratasevich, has received the first letters from her since the couple was arrested more than two weeks ago.

One of the letters from a KGB prison in Minsk was shared by Sapega's mother with British broadcaster BBC and published on June 9, describing the young woman's outlook and activities since being imprisoned.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists, and independent media following the August 2020 presidential election.

The pair had been traveling from Greece to Lithuania on May 23 when authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka had their Ryanair flight forcibly diverted to Minsk, prompting international outrage and a series of Western sanctions against the government.

In the letters, written on June 1 and 3, the 23-year-old Russian national asks her mother not to blame Pratasevich for what happened as she laments missing out on life outside of prison.

"Today is the third day [in prison], the day when I was supposed to defend my master's thesis in the morning, and in the evening go with Raman to a restaurant, drink champagne, eat pasta, enjoy summer, kiss, and love. However, everything turned out a little differently," she wrote.

Instead, she had porridge for breakfast and drank tea with cookies in the evening.

"It's very bitter to think about it, but it seems that I'll miss a lot of things in life," she wrote.

Sapega also wrote how she spends time in her cell exercising, reading, and keeping a diary, saying that nothing will be easy but that she believes she will be able to handle the current situation.

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Belarusian authorities have previously released a video of Sapega in which she confesses to being the editor of the Black Book of Belarus Telegram channel. Banned in Belarus as "extremist," the channel publishes personal information about employees of the country's security agencies.

Similar videos of Pratasevich were released in which he says he helped fuel "mass disorder" while working with Belarus's pro-democracy movement.

The opposition and the couple’s families says the confessions were made under duress.

Sapega's lawyer has not yet reviewed the documents related to her detention and the exact nature of the alleged crimes she committed are unclear.

Pratasevich, 26, is facing charges of being behind civil disturbances that followed a disputed presidential election in August 2020, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

He was a key administrator of the Telegram channel Nexta-Live, which has been covering the mass protests against the official results of the presidential poll that handed Lukashenka a sixth presidential term since 1994.

Security forces have arrested more than 30,000 people, including dozens of journalists who covered the rallies.

With reporting by BBC and Current Time
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