The founder and former editor-in-chief of the NEXTA Telegram channel Roman Protasevich admitted to organizing the riots in Belarus in 2020. He made the corresponding statement on the air of the Belarusian state TV channel ONT in the program “Markov. Nothing personal”.
The NEXTA project has become the main means of coordination for the participants of mass protests in Minsk and other large cities of the country. Its founder stressed that he admitted his guilt immediately after the charges were brought against him under Article 342 of the Criminal Code of Belarus.
At the beginning of the interview, which was broadcast on website channel, Protasevich stressed that he voluntarily agreed to a conversation with TV presenter Marat Markov. According to the blogger’s assumptions, his associates will react negatively to this meeting and begin to publicly condemn him. At the same time, the journalist stressed that he was indifferent to their words.
A few days before the interview, when Protasevich was still in the Minsk jail, the journalist’s mother said that he was tortured for the sake of the necessary information. Journalists and doctors also noticed traces of torture and strangulation on the footage with the blogger’s confession.
During a conversation with Markov, Protasevich said that they did not make up before the conversation and that no one had covered up the “traces of torture”. At the same time, Russian TV presenter Olga Skabeeva noticed the blogger has wounds on his wrists, similar to marks from handcuffs. The journalist’s hands in the frame were shown in close-up.
In addition, the journalist’s voice often trembled, and at the end of the conversation he broke down and burst into tears. The blogger said that he does not intend to return to politics and participate in “dirty showdowns.”
Roman Protasevich revealed the sources of funding for the Telegram channel NEXTA and the Belarusian opposition, whose leader is the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Both projects, according to the blogger, are sponsored from abroad.
So, he said that Tikhanovskaya receives funds from Lithuanian taxpayers, interested entrepreneurs and diasporas. At the same time, NEXTA has a sponsor in Russia. Despite the fact that the project initially received money only from advertising and “donations” from subscribers, later a Russian oligarch, whose name Protasevich did not name, joined the sponsorship.
euro weekly received by the NEXTA project from the Russian oligarch
If initially, as the journalist noted, the channel received small amounts, then soon they increased to several thousand euros. The sponsor transferred money to the project accounts on a stable basis, at least once a week. However, Protasevich himself never received large sums. The main money, according to his assumptions, was kept in the accounts of the second editor of the project, Stepan Putilo.
In an interview with Markov, the blogger revealed the names of his supporters, who were also involved in the authorship of the NEXTA project and the organization of the riots in Belarus. ONT TV channel in its Telegram-channel called this data valuable for the investigation.
According to Protasevich, Stepan Putilo, Jan Rudik, Tadeusz Dichan, Franak Vecherko, Anton Motolko, Daniil Bogdanovich, Artem Shraibman, Eduard and Victoria Palchis, Anastasia Rogatko, Dmitry Navosha, Yevgeny Malakhovsky were involved in coordinating the protests. Employees worked with “courtyard chats”, and also worked out specific theses, according to which they formed the channel’s agenda. The people mentioned by Protasevich have not yet commented on his interview.
As for the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, the journalist said that he respects him. According to Protasevich, having delved into the political agenda, he realized that many of the things for which the head of state is criticized are just attempts at pressure.
Protasevich was detained on May 23, when he flew on a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius. The aircraft made an emergency landing at the Minsk airport after reports of mining. Immediately after landing, the Belarusian security forces detained the creator and former editor-in-chief of the NEXTA Telegram channel, who was on board, and his girlfriend, Russian woman Sofia Sapega.
Alexander Lukashenko claimed that the information about the mining of the liner came from Switzerland, and the crew, after consulting with the airport in Vilnius and the airline, decided to land the plane in Minsk. At the same time, as stated by the President of Belarus, neither Kiev, nor Warsaw, nor Lvov wanted to accept him.
However, this version was not confirmed – at the Frederic Chopin airport in Warsaw, they noted that they did not receive requests for an emergency landing from Ryanair. According to the airport representative, in case of receiving such messages, Warsaw would accept the liner and provide all the necessary assistance.
For the crimes imputed to Protasevich in Belarus, he faces imprisonment. In addition, since November 2020, he and Stepan Putilo have been included by the Belarusian KGB on the list of terrorists. In total, the list includes more than 700 people, only two of whom are citizens of Belarus.