Roman Protasevich’s speech at a briefing at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry shocked some Western journalists so much that instead of asking him questions in person, they left the press center. Too much it broke the carefully constructed template …
It is noteworthy that after the arrest of Protasevich, politicians and media in opposition to the Belarusian authorities called him a prisoner and a political prisoner. However, after the former editor-in-chief of NEXTA gave a long interview to the state Belarusian TV channel ONT, in which he exposed the Belarusian opposition in a not very attractive light, they began to say that he was doing this almost under torture by the KGB (and some began assertthat Lukashenka personally beat him), while others simply began to ignore him.
The briefing with the participation of Roman Protasevich was very entertaining. According to the blogger himself, he found out about the event 2 hours before its start. But this did not prevent Roman from feeling very free and uninhibited on him, which could not be said about the representatives of the Western media, for whom this became a break in the template. Protasevich’s answers embarrassed some journalists so much that they defiantly left the hall, saying that Roman was under duress.
Before the briefing
On Monday, June 14, a rather remarkable publication appeared on the BYPOL Telegram channel, which said that Roman Protasevich was personally beaten by the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.
“We received information about the arrival of the dictator’s motorcade in the pre-trial detention center. Knowing the vindictiveness and sadistic inclinations of the usurper, it is not surprising that a person who considers himself the president could come to the pre-trial detention center to communicate with the detainee, who, according to the authorities, was involved in managing the protests, ”BYPOL journalists described the president of Belarus.
Moreover, BYPOL also said that Lukashenka personally broke Protasevich’s nose. True, they immediately noted that they could not document this in any way, but, according to them, “there is no smoke without fire.”
“We have received information that it was Lukashenka who personally broke the nose of the detained journalist. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, we cannot confirm the stated documentarily, but there is no smoke without fire, ”BYPOL said.
The same message duplicated channels NEXTA and NEXTA Live.
What happened at the briefing (through the eyes of the opposition)
Journalists of the German international television and radio company Deutsche Welle stated that the Belarusian authorities had specially invited diplomats, but some of them left the hall when Protasevich entered.
“Representatives of the diplomatic corps were specially invited to the press conference, they were given two rows in the hall, but as soon as Roman Protasevich sat down at the table and began his speech, about half of the diplomats got up and left. Some foreign journalists who came to the press conference did the same, ”- noted at Deutsche Welle.
Deutsche Welle refers to “some foreign journalists” as the BBC’s Ukraine correspondent John Fischer. He himself wrote about this on Twitter, responding to a message from his Moscow colleague Sarah Rainsford.
“Wow. The Belarusian authorities brought former NEXTA blogger Roman Protasevich from his KGB cell to a press briefing on the forced landing of Ryanair, which drew international condemnation and sanctions, ”wrote BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford.
“We just got out. They didn’t take part because he is clearly under duress there, ”Fischer told her.
We have just walked out. Not taking part when he is clearly there under duress. https://t.co/vg4gSGZJeL
– Jonah Fisher (@JonahFisherBBC) June 14, 2021
Fischer later added that they were allegedly tricked into the press conference.
“We were deceived, because our presence here would lend weight and make this press conference official. When we realized that it was he who would participate, we understood that we cannot be here, ”John Fisher explained his departure.
This behavior of Western journalists reacted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who called the BBC journalists hypocrites.
“I hope that someday BBC journalists will be able to repeat this during a press conference with Julian Assange. Principled hypocrites, ”the diplomat wrote on her Telegram channel.
Roman Protasevich’s speech began with a refutation of information about a nose broken personally by the President of Belarus. The correspondent of the TV channel “BelaPAN” asked this question, despite the fact that the appearance of the ex-oppositionist testified that he had no turning point.
“It’s good that you started the conversation with a joke. I will not comment on anything – it’s just ridiculous, ”replied Protasevich.
According to him, the only marks that remained on the body are traces of plastic ties that were used during the arrest. The journalist was not satisfied with this answer, and during one of the pauses she turned to Protasevich:
“Roman, I sincerely sympathize with you. Many of your colleagues in Belarus sincerely sympathize with you. I can imagine what could have been done to you. And I don’t believe a single word of yours. Just hold on, just get over it. “
Diverting attention from Lukashenka’s “disappearance”
But the director of the International Center for Civil Initiatives “Our Home” Olga Karach believes that Protasevich’s appearance has a deeper meaning. He was allegedly shown to distract everyone from the “disappearance” of Lukashenka. On the air of the Dozhd TV channel, Karach said that this briefing is a “noise curtain” to divert attention from the fact that for a long time Alexander Lukashenko did not appear in public.
Roman Protasevich – Lukashenka’s “trophy”
Franak Vyachorka, an advisor to the leader of the Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, said that President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is using Protasevich as a trophy. “Lukashenka uses Roman as a trophy. They overtook the plane, they hijacked him and his girlfriend, they keep him in fear, and this press conference is a demonstration, just like in that propaganda show of Markov, ”Vyachorka emphasized.
He also added that the new appearance of Roman Protasevich in public is such a form of torture. “Interrogation in front of millions of Belarusians is baseness, it is a crime, it is a form of torture. The fact that his hands are not tied at this press conference, that he speaks fluently, does not mean that he has ceased to be a hostage. I would like to believe that what he is doing now will help him to be released, ”added the adviser to Tikhanovskaya.
Jokes because of stress
And here is the journalist of Radio Svaboda Dmitry Gurnevich considersthat the normal behavior of Protasevich at a press conference is nothing more than a reaction of the ex-oppositionist to stress.
“Knowing Protasevich (and we sat next to each other for half a year almost every day in the office of Radio Svaboda, when he was a fellow of the Vaclav Havel program), I am not for a second surprised at the confidence with which, as many might think, Roma says. This is his reaction to stress. When he found himself in critical work situations, for example, when he forgot to take pictures during a photo session (this was), then instead of an adequate reaction he had the opposite process – jokes and laughter, allegedly he did not understand what he was talking about, ”the journalist wrote in your Telegram channel.
“They worked with him”
Political scientist Pavel Usov believes that Roman Protasevich spoke sincerely at the briefing. True, he did it for a reason.
“They worked with him in such a way that he himself believes in what he says, in his own respect for Lukashenka as a person, in the venality of the opposition, in the greatness of the state. He believes so much that he convinces his supporters that he really says what he thinks, without coercion and fear. He looks not broken and depressed, but changed. ” wrote Pavel Usov on his Telegram channel.
Worried security forces and the government in a panic
Analyst Igor Ilyash had seen nervousness in Protasevich’s appearance at the briefing of the Belarusian authorities. “Apparently, the idea to bring Roman Protasevich and the security forces to the Foreign Ministry’s press conference arose at the very last moment. Moreover, one gets the impression that the security officials were even more worried than Protasevich himself – they did not expect that they would have to take the rap for everyone, and nervously twisted their fountain pens in their hands, ”the analyst shared his impressions of what he saw.
According to Ilyash, the press conference with Protasevich indicates that “the authorities are at a loss.” “Add to this the recent tearful appeal of the“ deputies ”to the world community and yesterday’s shocking interview by Makei. All this indicates that moods close to panic prevail in the highest echelons of power, ”Ilyash added.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics also did not stand aside and commented on the briefing in Minsk. He compared it to forced confessions in Stalin’s time. Rinkevics wrote about this on Twitter.
“The staged press conference in Minsk, with representatives of the repressive apparatus and journalist Roman Protasevich, recalls the worst examples of the Stalinist past. Forced confessions and hostage-taking that have no place in the 21st century. Freedom for Protasevich, ”wrote the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia.
The kangaroo press conference held in #Minsk with the representatives of the repressive apparatus and kidnapped journalist Roman #Protasevich resembles worst examples of the Stalinist past, forced confessions, hostage taking have no place in the 21st century #freeprotasevich
– Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) June 14, 2021
His tweet was answered by another Belarusian oppositionist and member of the “Coordination Council for Organizing the Process of Overcoming the Political Crisis” Pavel Latushko.
– Pavel Latushka (@PavelLatushka) June 14, 2021
“A novel in captivity,” Latushko wrote shortly.