"MUMMY" was the only message Sofia Sapega managed to send to her mother, before being hauled off a 'hijacked' Ryanair flight with boyfriend Roman Protasevich in Belarus.
Fears are growing for the pair's safety after "Europe's last dictator", paranoid Alexander Lukashenko, forced the passenger plane to divert.
Who is Roman Protasevich's girlfriend Sofia Sapega?
Concern is rising for the Russian girlfriend of the detained Belarus activist Roman Protasevich, 26, after the Ryanair ‘state hijacking’ amid fears he is being tortured.
Sofia Sapega's mother told BBC News that the 23-year-old had been taken to a Minsk jail.
She added that the last word she managed to write on her WhatsApp messaging account was 'Mummy'.
Belarus's accusations against her are 'unclear', the broadcaster adds.
"'Mom' was the only message Sofia managed to send to her mother" before the couple's shocking detention on May 23, 2021, tweeted Franak Viacorka.
He is senior adviser to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a Belarusian human rights activist and politician who ran in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election as the main opposition candidate.
Sofia Sapega is a Russian citizen who lives in Vilnius, Lithuania, and studies at the European Humanities University (EHU) in the Faculty of International Law.
The Belarusian university has demanded the law student's release.
EHU was founded in Belarus capital Minsk in 1992 but was forced by authorities to relocate in 2004 to neighbouring Lithuania.
The uni said Sofia had been detained in Minsk on "groundless and made-up conditions" while flying back to continue her Master's thesis.
"As a result of a [fake bomb] cover operation by the Belarusian authorities, the student was detained," it said, calling for "immediate consular assistance".
"Sofia's group mates and faculty members say that the student is well regarded due to her academic performance and reputation in EHU's community," the university statement added.
Sofia had been vacationing with Roman in Greece before they were captured, according to the uni.
The couple had been on a holiday in Greece, and had known each other for around six months after meeting in a bar.
A friend said: “Sofia and I have been friends for over five years, we travelled together. She is very sympathetic, friendly, courteous."
In Brussels, the EU's 27 national leaders demanded an immediate release of Roman and his girlfriend.
"This was effectively aviation piracy, state sponsored," said Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
Where is Sofia Sapega from?
Sofia has residency permits for both Lithuania and Belarus, but is a Russian citizen, originally from Vladivostok.
Some of her family live in Belarus, and her father lives in Thailand.
Why was Sofia Sapega arrested?
Sofia Sapega was arrested and detained because she is the girlfriend of journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich.
It's believed that Belarus KGB agents spying for the power-hungry president were on the couple's flight, and had tipped off officials before it left Athens Airport in Greece.
Roman tested one pal in Russian: “Lol, it seems that the [security services] were following me at the airport.
“And even tried to photograph my documents. It’s not certain. But in any case that’s some suspicious s**t.”
Roman was arrested as he has annoyed "Europe's last dictator", Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, for daring to speak out against him.
The journalist had fled Belarus for Poland in 2019 due to pressure from the authorities, before relocating to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is also based.
Belarusian authorities on May 23 sent a MiG-29 fighter jet to forcefully divert Ryanair flight 4978, citing a bogus bomb threat.
Nikos Petalis, a Greek passenger who was sitting in the middle of the plane, said Roman froze when the pilot announced that the flight was changing course en route to Lithuania.
“It was like something out of a film. A horror film," he said.
Roman immediately started going through his stowed items, giving his phone and laptop to Sofia, while begging flight attendant to stop the plane from landing in Minsk.
He pleaded: "Don’t do this, they will kill me, I am a refugee", but the crew member said they had "no choice".
The plane was carrying about 170 people from 12 countries.
Unfortunately, his efforts to pass on his cell and laptop were to no avail, as Sofia was also taken into custody.
A spokeswoman for Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis confirmed that Roman's girlfriend had been detained.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia has asked for access to Sofia.
“She is a citizen of Russia,” said Lavrov during a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
“We have already contacted her father, and our embassy has appealed to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry with a request to provide information about our citizen and provide consular access to her," he added.
Sofia's university in Vilnius has expressed grave concern for her fate, as Belarus officials are notorious for their treatment of those in custody.
For example those detained for protesting the outcome of the August 2020 presidential election described beatings, electric shocks, and in at least one case, rape.
Others suffered serious injuries, including broken bones, cracked teeth, skin wounds, electrical burns, and mild traumatic brain injuries. Some had kidney damage, reported Humans Rights Watch.
Poland has heard from the worried mother of journalist Roman Protasevich that his health condition is very serious, a Deputy Foreign Minister said on Monday.
"We have received a signal that his health situation is very serious. That is as much as I can say on that subject," Pawel Jablonski told private broadcaster TVN24.
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