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Mother of Belarus blogger asks Germany’s Merkel to help release him

Berlin (dpa) – The mother of Roman Protasevich, a government critic imprisoned in Belarus, has asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to help secure the release of her son and other prisoners in the country.

“We ask you very much to help us so that all innocent people are released from prison,” Natalia Protasevich told the Bild newspaper on Saturday.

“They need urgent help because they are exposed to sadism and violence every day,” she said.

She called for Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who has faced protests since a disputed election last year, to be stopped.

“Every more day, no, every more hour that passes costs innocent people, including children, their lives,” she said.

Almost three weeks ago, Belarusian authorities forced a Ryanair passenger plane on its way from Athens to Vilnius to stop over in Minsk and detained government critic Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega who were on board.

The EU then reimposed sanctions against the former Soviet republic.

The blogger’s father, Dmitri Protasevich, told Bild that their letters would not be delivered to their son. “Even his lawyer cannot talk to us freely on the phone,” he said.

“Instead, two videos have already been released by the state in which forced confessions are made.” In these, he said, one can see clear signs of torture.

One of these signs was bruises on his neck. “An expert told us that these were strangulation marks,” he said.

Protasevich’s parents live in exile in Poland.

On Thursday, the European Parliament called for further sanctions against Belarus.

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