Army in full combat readiness; Roman Protasevich spoke about the wedding – immediately after the verdict to the ex-girlfriend. The main thing in Belarus for the week

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sapega and protasevich

image copyrightReuters/Instagram/Sapega_Sofia_

The Belarusian army has been in a state of “sudden check” for the second week and is in full combat readiness; an ornithologist was sentenced to 2.5 years, and a bird protection organization was accused of extremism; the former editor-in-chief of Nekhta announced the wedding – three days after his ex-girlfriend Sofya Sapega received six years in prison.

The BBC Russian service tells about the main events in Belarus this week.

Belarusian military units “unexpectedly withdrawn” in case of war

On May 10, the Belarusian army began the second stage of the “sudden check of the reaction forces.” In fact, these are exercises during which the army is put on full alert.

Officials say the maneuvers are purely defensive. ”

The meaning of the sudden check is that we should unexpectedly withdraw units in case of war. Imagine aggression. How will it be done? From the western or southern territory?” Alexander Lukashenko said.

image copyrightZerkalo.io

Chief of the General Staff Viktor Gulevich explained the exercises by the noticeably increased activity of the Western countries in the entire region from Poland to the Black Sea and by the fact that it “clearly does not have a peaceful character.”

Against the backdrop of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the reaction to the exercises was quite sharp: during the previous such maneuvers “Allied Resolve” in February 2022, Russian troops attacked Ukraine from the territory of Belarus.

Then the tension began to subside, the British Ministry of Defense in one of its daily reports reported that the “sudden check” would at most divert the attention of the Ukrainian army from the Russian offensive in the Donbass.

Nevertheless, the General Staff of Ukraine has been reporting every evening since May 4 that it does not exclude artillery and air attacks from the territory of Belarus.

Ornithologist gets 2.5 years for protests, his organization is recognized as extremist

On May 12, ornithologist and ex-head of the ecological organization “Akhovy Ptushak Batskaushchyny” (“Protection of the Birds of the Motherland”) Viktor Fenchuk received 2.5 years for “organizing actions that grossly violate public order” – that is, for participating in peaceful protests in 2020.

image copyrightGreen Portal

In August 2020, Fenchuk really took part in mass actions against falsifications during the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko. Then he received only an administrative arrest.

In August 2021, the security forces came to the “Protection of the Birds of the Motherland” with a search, Fenchuk was then detained, given another administrative arrest, and then transferred to a pre-trial detention center with a criminal charge.

“Protection of the Birds of the Motherland” was one of the main environmental organizations in Belarus, it was engaged in the protection of birds and the conservation of biodiversity.

In March 2022, she was stripped of her legal status. According to the Ministry of Justice, the organization “under the guise of volunteering to save birds on the territory of the Republic of Belarus carries out extremist activities aimed at destabilizing the socio-political situation in the country.”

In particular, this was expressed in the fact that one of the mottos of ornithologists was the slogan “Ptushki z narodam” (“Birds with the people”).

Roman Protasevich married three days after his ex-girlfriend was sentenced

On May 6, Russian citizen Sofya Sapega was sentenced in Belarus to six years in prison. She was tried behind closed doors under seven articles of the Criminal Code of Belarus – mainly for the administration of the telegram channel, which posted the personal data of security officials involved in acts of violence against oppositionists and representatives of civil society.

On May 23, 2021, Sapieha and her boyfriend, ex-editor of the opposition publication Nekhta Roman Protasevich were arrested in Minsk after the Ryanair flight they were flying from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Belarus.

The interception of a civilian aircraft using combat aircraft and the capture of two passengers caused a flurry of indignation in the international community. Western politicians and international organizations have characterized this as an act of air piracy.

Since then, very little has been known about the life of Protasevich and Sapieha, both were under the complete control of the security forces.

It is known that after the arrest, Protasevich began to actively cooperate with the authorities and declared his remorse for his previous opposition activities. However, observers questioned how voluntary his actions were.

On May 9, Protasevich wrote a post in which he said that their personal relationship with Sapieha was not in the best condition at the time of the flight: they, according to him, planned to leave immediately after arriving in Vilnius, but the security forces intervened.

For some time, Protasevich writes, they lived in the same apartment under house arrest, but their relationship deteriorated so much that they were resettled.

This post unexpectedly ends with the words: “… despite all the difficulties, I will always treat her extremely warmly. Even despite the fact that I am married. But more on that some other time.” And a photograph where the bride’s face is blurred.

image copyrightSPRAVA

The mysterious wedding with a secret bride was discussed both on social networks and in the Belarusian media. Opinions ranged from “could not have dated the post about the wedding to Sapieha’s verdict” to “to get married, if it was a wedding at all, he was also forced by the security forces.”

In his next post, Roman Protasevich said that he got married a month before the verdict and accused the media of bullying him for the sake of high traffic.

A closed trial of Zeltser’s widow will be held in Minsk

On May 31, the Minsk City Court will begin hearing the case of the widow of Andrei Zeltser, who died in a shootout with KGB officers. According to human rights activists, the trial will be held behind closed doors.

image copyrightspring96.org

photo caption,

The wife of the deceased Andrei Zeltser, Maria Uspenskaya, is accused of complicity in the murder of a KGB officer

Maria is accused of complicity in the murder of KGB officer Dmitry Fedosyuk, who died during a shootout in Andrey Zeltser’s apartment in September last year.

She faces up to 25 years in prison.

During the shootout, Andrei Zeltser himself died, whom the Belarusian authorities posthumously accused of killing Fedosyuk.

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