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How Special Police Forces abused detained protesters in Belarus
liaksandr Lukjanski / Maryia Vaitovich, Euroradio
From 9 to 13 of August the police detained about 7 thousand of Belarusians. Many of them ended up in hospitals severely injured.
Patients of the Emergency Care Hospital in Minsk shared their stories of abuse they suffered in detention with the Euroradio reporter. They ask to tell that photos of terrible bruises and injuries one can see all over the Internet are not fake.
They beat me and threatened to put a squib in my pants
On the night of August 10 to 11, Viachaslau Piatrou was on his way to the “Riga” supermarket when he saw barricades. He recalls that the police were grabbing people indiscriminately, knocked them off their feet and tied their hands with plastic zip ties.
“They crammed about 30 people in one prisoner transport vehicle. People were lying on the floor in 4 tiers. The police were climbing on top of this human pile, they trampled us with their feet and sat on top so that nobody could stand up. I raised my head to have a look and took a blow immediately. One of them made a joke, something like “let’s throw a grenade there and close the doors, let’s show them how it’s done...”
People lying below started to struggle for breath, they pleaded for a gulp of air but that only led to more blows for those in the top tier. They were told to pass to those below not to ask for anything again. I was lying on my side, so I was hit on the ribs. While we were being transported my clothes soaked with blood.
In the holding facility in Akrestsina street I spent the whole night lying face down on the ground outside. They searched us. My phone fell out and was lying near me. The police operator started to yell at me that I was filming a video. They beat me and threatened to put a squib in my pants. There was a guy with long hair. I saw them cutting his hair three times. They were shouting “You are shaggy!” and beating him. There was a foreigner. To him they were shouting “Nigger! You came here, now here is your freedom!” They beat him too. I took two hits on the ribs and three or four hits on my back.
Then the interrogator demanded to name those who were paying us. He told us that our answers were straight from the script and threatened with 12 years in prison.
While in Akrestsina facility, I heard people screaming in neighbouring cells. There were girls too. Someone was menstruating. They told them to use their shirts to wipe up”.
“I can’t look at those in uniforms. I’m scared”
On 11 August Aliaksandr Lukjanski was coming back home in a taxi. The car was stuck in the traffic jam caused by numerous honking cars near Spartyunaja metro station.
“Some traffic police officers approached the car. The driver stepped out to show his documents. They told me to step out of the car as well. I had this feeling that something was wrong, so I blocked the doors. Then some Special Police Force operators (AMAP) rushed up. They smashed the window and dragged me out through it. They beat me to a pulp. They hit me with their batons on legs, hands, ass, lips, nose... They kicked me with their boots. I was beaten black and blue all over, I couldn’t even sit properly.
Then they took us to Piershamaiski district office of internal affairs, shoved us into a cell, and then forced us into a gym. There, everybody was on their knees, hands behind heads. The guys were severely beaten, the whole room was covered in blood. They treated girls in a more tolerant way allowing them to sit on the floor mats. Still, one girl was standing with us as they found some video from a protest on her phone.
Then they transported us to Akrestsina facility. When we were getting closer to the facility I could hear terrible cries: people were pleading for help. Everyone was forced down on their knees outside. If someone needed the lavatory they simply told them to do one's business where one stands or brought a bucket. Someone said they were hungry. Then the Special Police Forces operator shook some green apples from a tree and said: “Eat, sons of bitches!” They chose people at random, approached and beat them so that everyone remained on edge.
All in all, I am lucky. When medics came to examine those who needed hospitalisation I told them I could barely breathe and my ribs and back hurt. Others also asked to examine them. The facility’s nurse came closer and barked: “Sons of bitches, you were perfectly ok to protest and now you are trying to hide in ambulances! Sit, I’ll take care of you now”. Then some facility’s superior walked over and also said they would take care of us now. People were taken inside and beaten, they were forced to shout “AMAP is might!” and sing the anthem. Everything was filmed.
Then someone over the radio said that they had to take one guy out. His pelvic bones were broken, he couldn’t walk on his own. They took him out and injected some painkiller. He was broken all over.
We couldn’t leave for a long time as they blocked the ambulance. Someone was banging at the vehicle. They wanted to see who was taken to hospital and in what condition…
I want to leave for Ukraine or Poland. I just can’t look at people in uniform. I’m scared they will beat me again”.
“They yelled that we were drugged and paid in dollars”
Igor Krupsky was detained on 9 August. He was an independent observer at the 83rd polling station of Maskouski district. The director of school No.181 called the police claiming that the observers used psychological pressure against the voters.
“They took me by the arms and forced me into a bus. They were insulting me and beating me. Then they shoved me into a prisoner van. There was one very short young operator with lifeless eyes. He grabbed me by the throat and tried to choke me, then he saw my white ribbon and yelled at me calling me Tsikhanouskaja’s bastard. When they made us move from one police van to another they hit us with batons or kicked in the abdomen.
In Akrestsina facility, there was a line of AMAP operators who were beating us with batons. By that moment it was difficult to say who hit you or where. I felt the hits and realised that I had to run forward in order not to fall down. Those who fell were beaten almost to death.
They were yelling that we were drugged and paid in dollars. They told us: “Your Tsikhanouskaja has already hauled ass, and you, chumps, are here, and it’s already quiet in the streets”. They took pleasure in our cries for mercy. I took about 15 blows. I couldn’t feel my legs.
The AMAP were quite apprehensive to transport us to Zhodzina. They understood that anything could happen. In Zhodzina, I was hit again on my head, chest and abdomen. Then they shoved us into the walking area. I stood there and I could barely breathe. On the first night I could lay only curled up on my side. I struggled for air. Medics were not to be seen anywhere around…
In Zhodzina, they threatened us with “masks”. Which is essentially a group of masked people bursting into a cell and beating everyone at random. That’s why nobody wanted to take the upper bunk as we were afraid that these “masks” would drag us down from there while there were hard metal ribs. But these were just threats”.
“They threatened to smack us down in prison”
At night on 12 August Aliaksandr Alkhouski was detained at the crossroads between Haretskaha and Sharangovicha streets, not far from the “Magnit” shopping centre. He says he didn’t take part in protests.
“I just stopped to have a chat with a friend when buses suddenly appeared. They grabbed me, kicked me off my feet. I curled up on the ground, trying to protect my head. They hit me on legs, kidneys. They were shouting: “Son of a bitch, slimebag, you’re done!” They kept threatening that they will take us to some woods or smack us down in prison.
Then they shoved me into a minivan, they took my phone, unlocked it and read my messages. Then two more people were thrown into the van. We were lying face down, they were simply driving around the city beating us.
Then they locked us in a prison van and took to the district office of internal affairs. There were some young men who untied our hands and took us to the interrogator. I blacked out on the way there. My ears were bleeding. My legs were beaten to a pulp. During interrogation there were some provocative questions. They wanted me to acknowledge that I was protesting not only near the “Magnit”.
They forced me to sign the protocol, although it was a complete lie. But I agreed to do it”.
Guys with dreadlocks were forced to kiss in the prisoner transport vehicle
For the first time, Iauhen Iakubets was detained by the police on July 14. It happened close to the Stele. The guy was taken to the Piershamaiski district Police Department. I spent the night in the gym, then I was released. Iauhen says that compared to the holding facility in Akrestsina street, it was a sanatorium. On the night of August 11-12, the guy was driving with friends in the direction of the "Riga” supermarket from the Kamarouski market. There was a traffic police post, and black-clad operators were checking all the cars.
“They threw us all on the asphalt. A friend of mine had a video on his phone that they found unacceptable. I had long hair. They started insulting me, saying I looked like a girl. They cut my hair off with a knife and threw me into a prisoner van. There were blows to the legs, pelvis, stomach, and back. "We are not getting any sleep for a third night in a row because of you bastards! they shouted. What do you want to build here, what kind of country to live in, why you don't stay at home? We will show you what's what!"
There were two guys with dreadlocks. Their hair was cut off together with the scalp. These same guys were forced to kiss in the prisoner van: "Suck faces, you bastards, you didn't go to the army!"
When were transferred to another prisoner van and they all stood in line and each one hit us - it's called a live corridor. A booted leg hit me in the face. The nose was swollen, and blood flowed from the wound.”
In the prisoner van, they shoved us in cages. It was very hot and stuffy. We were brought to Akrestsina, we were made to run, and we were beaten all the time. I was running, roughly speaking, on all fours. And someone was lifting me up by my hair.
We were on our knees by the fence. Then they put us in the exercise yard.
There was a five-liter bottle in the corner, and anyone who wanted to pee used it as a toilet."
"Shoved the baton in the anus”
On August 11, Dzmitryi (he asked not to give his last name) was returning home past the Stele. At the pedestrian crossing, two special police operators approached him.
“They demanded to unlock the phone. I refused. Then they took me off my bike, took away the lock and the key, took the bike somewhere, and pushed me into a prison truck. There were four or five special police operators in the prison truck. They beat me up and demanded to see my photos. There were images of the protesters being dispersed. They beat me again with police batons, and kicked me.
There were several guys lying on the floor. They put me in the middle. They forced to sing the anthem and the song "We want changes" by Viktor Tsoi. Then they pushed us out of the prison truck and threw us into a MAZ bus. There was some ideologist, we were ordered to crawl up to him. He asked questions: "Who pays you? How do you coordinate protests? Aren't you satisfied with your life?” I said that my life was normal, that I hadn't gone anywhere. It was not a situation to push for rights.
Then I was shoved back into the prison truck. They put me face down. They started bringing more people there, there was a Pole. Beaten up. The guy who was with me had a knife in his pocket. He said he was a craftsman. They cut his shorts and underpants in the back with the knife and threatened to shove a baton in his anus. They beat us up again.
Two special police operators came with my phone. They wanted to unlock it. I forgot my password from the beatings. I was very ill. They beat me again and threatened to throw a grenade into the prison truck. Then some boss came and sat down next to me. He asked if anyone had a condom. Cut my underwear. He put the condom on a baton and shoved it down my anus. It was very painful. He demanded that I unlock my phone — but I didn't remember the password. I was beaten up again and left in the prison van.
Then we were thrown into another truck. We went to the Zavodski district police Department. While exiting, we were beaten by AMAP police again. They put us face down, looked at the tattoos, and filmed them. We lay there for ten hours or so. We were put against the wall, we were sometimes given water.
I had a hematoma in my scrotum, I demanded a doctor, but they refused. One guy fainted, hit the curb, and was taken away by an ambulance. They did not let doctors see me, they just laughed. In the morning, our hands were tied with plastic zip ties. We stood there for another ten hours. We were given some water from time to time. I felt as if they were going to shoot us or kill with grenades. We were standing outside. I was wearing a t-shirt with my pants cut up. Some guy gave me his jacket. I ached all over. Sometimes the ties were loosened, and they allowed us to loosen the stiff muscles.
Then the protocols were brought. It was a complete lie, like I was walking and waving my arms. They forced me to sign it.
Then we were loaded into a prison truck and taken to Akrestsina. At the exit, we were forced through a live corridor. They beat us with batons, then took off the zip ties. There were 120 people in the exercise yard, where we stood for five hours. There were local jailors. They gave us no water at all. They gave me painkillers. An ambulance arrived. I was taken away. The doctors were apalled."
“The Internet didn't work. My friends and I went to see who won”
On August 10, Aliaksandr Herasimau woke up at home. He had not gone to the elections, had gone to the countryside instead. The Internet didn't work. The guy wanted to know the news, so he went outside.
"My friends and I went to see who won” We came to the Kamarouski market, took a Shawarma for dinner, there were a lot of people around. Everyone was happy, sober, no drugs.
We approached the Riga supermarket, there was a barricade being made, which the police later began to attack. We stood across the road, near the "Europe" shopping centre and looked at what was happening. The barricade was destroyed. First, there were water cannons, then other military vehicles drove into it at full speed. I'm not sure they were sure there weren't any people there.
And suddenly the special police appeared. I ran from them, jumped on some parapet, tripped over something. I couldn't run anymore. They tied me up. They tried to tie my hands but couldn't They beat me up. They tell me to stand still, I'm standing, I can't run, my leg is broken.
Then they put me face down on the ground and cut my hair. (I thought it would be a disaster, but after I washed my hair it looked alright!) They promised to rape me with a police baton. They shouted that someone had paid me. They spoke with dialect which was not from Minsk. I thought they were drugged. Their behavior was strange, their eyes were mad eyes, the pupils were dilated.
They took us to the Central district Police Department. I stood in the street until I passed out. They took pictures of everyone at the Department, but they didn't take pictures of me. My lips were swollen, my eyebrow was split, and I had a black eye, so the photographer refused to take pictures.
They didn't give us any medicines, though a number of people had to go to the doctor. I was told to sign the incident report. I don't know what it said, but I signed it. My leg hurt badly, and I couldn't think of anything else. Then I was taken to the hospital. What can I say — I had been in the army myself and had seen how it works. I can imagine how they are trained. They were let loose. And had a good time!”