Donetsk, Jun 2 - DAN. Roman Protasevich who was detained in Belarus for organising riots has nothing to do with the Donbass peace process, the press service of the Donetsk People’s Republic delegation at the Minsk talks said on Wednesday.

Speaker of the Ukrainian delegation in the Contact Group Alexey Arestovich alleged in comments for BBC News Ukraine that Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko cannot be the intermediary and that Minsk cannot be the venue for talks if Belarussian authorities let LPR representatives meet with Protasevich.

“A number of questions for the Ukrainian leadership arises from this statement: if Belarussian law-enforcement bodies refuse the request of DPR and LPR law-enforcement bodies, will Minsk sessions resume? Or should we again observe the personal speculations of the man who performs the function of Ukrainian delegation mass media promoter and has no political influence at the level of the Ukrainian leadership?” the DPR delegation said in a statement.

The Lugansk People’s Republic Prosecutor General’s Office asked Belarus to provide the opportunity to carry out investigative actions with Belarussian national Roman Protasevich in the LPR as prosecutors have established his involvement in strikes at Donbass and destruction of civil infrastructure facilities in the region.  Lukashenko said he was ready to arrange such a meeting, but named Minsk as the venue. Kiev decided to use this situation as a pretext for blackmail.

“Mr Protasevich has nothing to do with the Minsk process, and the condition voiced by Arestovich shows Ukrainian authorities’ wish to prevent the resumption of face-to-face meetings with the Republics’ representatives in Minsk. These ridiculous statements by Ukraine only aggravate the negotiating process continuing to sacrifice peace in Donbass,” the DPR delegation said.

Protasevich founded the Nexta Telegram channel which was recognized as extremist in Belarus. He was detained at the Minsk Airport together with his girlfriend Sofia Sapega during document check on May 23. Protasevich was charged on several counts including organisation of riots. Earlier, the so-called Belarussian opposition activist alleged that that he had been in Donbass as the height of fighting in 2014-2015 in the capacity of journalist. Later on, his photos were published showing a gun-toting Protasevich in military uniform together with gunmen of the punitive neo-Nazi armed formation Azov.*jk