DISINFO: Pratasevich admitted his role in the plot to overthrow Lukashenka by force
  • Outlet: actualidad.rt.com (archived)*
  • Date of publication: June 07, 2021
  • Article language(s): Spanish
  • Reported in: Issue 248
  • Countries / regions discussed: Belarus
Raman Pratasevich Alexander Lukashenko West Coup Colour revolutions Ryanair Flight 4978 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

DISINFO: Pratasevich admitted his role in the plot to overthrow Lukashenka by force


The journalist arrested in the Ryanair flight admitted his role in the riots in Belarus and explained how the opposition is funded from abroad. Raman Pratasevich, former editor of the opposition Belarusian Telegram channel Nexta, granted an interview in which he affirmed that he was a mediator between the office of the former presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and some conspirators that were plotting the forced takeover of power in the country. The journalist admitted in a conversation with the state channel ONT that he attended a meeting of the conspirators in Zoom, where his face was covered with a black square and his name was hidden. According to his statements, he took notes but didn’t participate in the discussion about the plan.

Besides, he said that he met Tsikhanouskaya and talked with her about the possibility of taking power by force. He also revealed that it was discussed that, after the end of the active state of protests in Belarus, the sub-channel Nexta live would concentrate on the events in Russia.


This disinformation story reports on the statements of arrested Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich as if they were the result of a voluntary interview, a message reinforced by the use of verbs such as “granted”, “revealed”, “admitted” or “explained”. Actually, Pratasevich’s appearance on the Belarusian state channel ONT on 31 May 2021 has been denounced as a forced confession by his relatives and the Belarusian opposition and by prominent human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Mistreatment marks were visible on Pratasevich’s wrists.

Pratasevich had been shown on 24 May 2021 in a previous ‘confession’ video with marks on his face that relatives and supporters suspected were the result of torture. This led the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville to express fears that “his appearance was not voluntary” and that his testimony could have been obtained under duress, which is prohibited under the Convention Against Torture. Forced confessions on camera are a recurrent practice of Belarusian authorities against opposition members.

The dubious narratives exposed in the testimony of Pratasevich are the same that pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets have been spreading during the last year, including the alleged plans to overthrow Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in a coup of which no evidence has ever been provided (see here for our previous debunk) and the portrayal of popular protests as a Western-backed colour revolution, with Russia as the ultimate target.

This is part of a wider disinformation campaign about the arrest of Raman Pratasevich at the Minsk airport after the forced landing of the Ryanair flight 4978 on which he was travelling from Athens to Vilnius. See the European Council conclusions on Belarus regarding the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk.

See other examples in our database, such as claims that Belarus acted in strict accordance with international law in the Ryanair incident, that Hamas sent an email to Minsk airport, that the security service of Ukraine could have set up the incident to harm Belarus, that Raman Pratasevich is a professional media extremist and fought alongside neo-Nazis in the Donbas war, or that the Ryanair case is similar to the forced landing of Evo Morales’s plane.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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