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2021.05.24 11:46

Student of university in Vilnius among detainees on diverted flight

LRT.lt2021.05.24 11:46

Sofia Sapega, a Russian national and student of a Belarusian university-in-exile in Vilnius, was arrested together with her partner Roman Protasevich after the Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight was hijacked by the Belarusian regime.

The 23-year-old Russian is a student of the European Humanities University (EHU). The university released a statement on Monday, calling for international action.

"Sofia Sapega is a Russian citizen studying International Law and European Union Law programme at EHU. While returning with her boyfriend from vacation, Sofia was getting prepared for the defence of her Master’s thesis in Vilnius," the statement reads.

"As a result of a cover operation by the Belarusian authorities, the student was detained by the Administration of the Investigative Committee for the city of Minsk on groundless and made-up conditions. Sofia’s groupmates and faculty members tell that the student is well regarded due to her academic performance and reputation in EHU’s community."

"The University insists on providing immediate consular assistance to Sofia. In addition to that, EHU calls on international partners, donors, and human rights defenders to assist in releasing Sofia. The University stays in touch with the family of the student."

"The community of EHU categorically condemns the impunity of Belarusian authorities and demands the fulfillment of international obligations of Belarus as well as ensuring rights and freedoms of citizens, as provided in the Constitution of Belarus," the university said. "We stay in solidarity with all illegally detained Belarusians and those under unprecedented political persecution. We protest against the unjustified detention of the member of EHU community Sofia Sapega."

A Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was diverted to Minsk on Sunday minutes before reaching the Lithuanian airspace. The Belarusian regime scrambled a jet and a military helicopter to lead the plane into Minsk.

The diversion was reportedly demanded over an unspecified bomb threat, according to the Belarusian authorities. Roman Protasevich, editor of Telegram channel Nexta that was instrumental in guiding the protests against Alexander Lukashenko, was detained.

Read more: Belarus scrambles air force, diverts Vilnius-bound flight to Minsk to arrest dissident

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