Sofia Sapega

EHU student, Russian citizen, sentenced to 6 years

Former prisoner

Date of birth: 10 February 1998

Date of detention: 23 May 2021

Charges indicted:

Art. 130 of the Criminal Code — Incitement to hatred
Art. 179 of the Criminal Code — Illegal collection and dissemination of information about private life

Sentence: 6 years

Penalty: imprisonment in a general-security penal colony

Date of release: 7 June 2023

Judge: Viktar Sianko

Prosecutor: Natallia Sakalova

On the list of “terrorists” (money transfers are prohibited)

Sofia Sapega is a student of the European Humanities University in Vilnius, a citizen of the Russian Federation.

On May 23, 2021, Sofia was returning from a vacation in Greece together with blogger Raman Pratasevich. The Ryanair plane was forced to land at Minsk National Airport. Sofia and Raman were detained.

Sofia was named a suspect in a criminal case under Part 1 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (organization of riots) and Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order).

Sapega was remanded in the KGB pre-trial prison in Minsk.

On May 27, she was named a suspect under Part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code, "incitement to racial, national, religious or other social hatred or enmity."

On June 24, she was transferred to house arrest.

On 20 December 2021, it became known that Sofia was finally charged under seven articles of the Criminal Code:

  • Part 3 of Article 130 (Incetenent to hatred);
  • Part 4 of Article 16 and 364 (Violence or threat of violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies);
  • Part 4 of Article 16 and 365 (Threats, slander or dissemination of data about police officers);
  • Part 4 of Article 16 and 366 (Organization of violence and threats against officials);
  • Part 4 of Article 16 and 389 (Organization of violence and threats against judges);
  • Part 4 of Article 16 and 198 (Obstruction of a journalists lawful professional activity with threats of violence);
  • Part. 1 and 2 of Article 203-1 (Illegal actions with respect to information about private life and personal data).

At the end of December 2021, her case was sent to court.

Sapega's stepfather Sergey Dudich reported on December 21, 2021, that Sofia had filed a clemency petition to Lukashenka.

The trial began on March 28, 2022, in the Hrodna region court in a closed session. The investigation was conducted in Minsk, but the case was transferred to Hrodna, presumably because Sapega was registered in Lida, Hrodna region.

On May 6, 2022, the verdict was passed: Sofia was found guilty under two articles of the Criminal Code, Part 3 of Article 130 (Inciting hatred within a group) and Part 1 of Article 179 (illegal collection of information on private life), and sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. She also has to pay compensation for moral injuries to the victims in the amount of 167,500 rubles (about USD 49,400)223 people were recognized as the victims. It is known that the family later paid the entire amount of the compensation for moral damages.

The measure of restraint was changed from house arrest to detention. On May 25, 2022, the verdict of the Hrodna Regional Court against Sapega was not appealed and became legally binding.

In early June 2022, Sapega was transferred from Prison #1 to Penal Colony #4 in Homieĺ, where she is working as a seamstress. In late June, she submitted a petition for pardon to the penal colony administration.

In August 2022, Sapega was reported to have been deprived of a meeting with her relatives—allegedly because she had given a cigarette to someone. Besides, Sapega, a citizen of the Russian Federation, was deprived of her residence permit in Belarus.

In early January 2023, it became known that Sapega was denied a pardon.


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