Pillow-stifling, tear gas, threats of rape: Mikalai Dzyadok gives statement about torture by police

On July 1, another hearing of the case of the arrested blogger and anarchist activist Mikalai Dzyadok began.

According to Mikalai’s defense lawyer, his client was brutally detained; security officers rushed into the apartment through broken doors and windows. When they tried to beat passwords to social media accounts out of him and Mikalai remained silent, the officers tear-gassed the man, threatened with rape and let him know they could have choked him off, Novy Chas reports.

When Dzyadok was taken to the building of the Main Directorate for Combatting Organised Crime and Corruption (notorious GUBOPiK/GUBAZiK), they forcibly put the bottles allegedly found at his place into his mouth and made him touch them (apparently, they wanted Dzyadok to leave his fingerprints), the lawyer said. The defendant was reportedly compelled to sign the documents which he had not read.

In turn, Lieutenant of Justice Kazusyonak stated in court that the use of force during the detention was justified. Notably, Mikalai was not showing any resistance then.

Trial of Mikalai Dzyadok. Minsk, 1 July 2021.
Photo: Novy Chas

Mikalai Dzyadok is accused of ‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order (Article 342 of the Criminal Code) and ‘illegal actions with combustible substances (Art. 295-3). When detaining Dzyadok in November 2020, security officers searched his place and found glass bottles containing fuels, which fall under the article of the Criminal Code, the investigators say.

Moreover, according to the Belarusian authorities, the defendant also committed ‘actions aimed at harming the national security of Belarus’ (Art. 361-3) on his Telegram channel Mikola which Dzyadok had been administering for several years.

After Mikalai Dzyadok was apprehended in the town of Sasnovy (Asipovichy district), Belarusian law enforcement agencies published a video in which the young man looked badly beaten. The complaint of the activist’s father about torture during detention was not satisfied; the Investigative Committee refused to conduct a probe. The Belarusian human rights community recognised him as a political prisoner.

Trial of Mikalai Dzyadok. Minsk, 1 July 2021.
Photo: Novy Chas

The activist who agreed to testify during the trial says that by publishing posts and news on his Telegram channel he exercised his right to freedom of expression.

“The interests of Belarus and the interests of the Belarusian ruling elite are not the same. The ideology of extremism of which I am accused does not exist,” he stressed on Thursday.

There is also no evidence that his posts harmed anyone.

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It should be noted that today Mikalai Dzyadok has revealed the details of his being arrested. On November 11, seven persons, both uniformed policemen and plainclothed men, broke into the apartment, knocking the door down and breaking windows. They immediately started beating Dzyadok, asking if there was video surveillance in the apartment. “Do you realise that you will not get out of a punishment cell?” one of the unexpected guests asked Mikalai after cuffing him. They threatened to take him to the forest and strip him naked, saying: “Now let’s go to the Gestapo, there you will cry and hate yourself.” To force the password to his Telegram channel out of him, they stifled him with a pillow. His hands were constantly handcuffed from behind, which was a tornment.

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The officer under the alias ‘Alyoksa’ reminded of the need to film a video featuring Mikalai’s confessions. When asked if he would say ‘nececcary things’ in front of the camera, the detainee did not answer. Then he was put into the storage closet and sprayed with pepper gas. When taken out to the street, Mikalai was tear-gassed in his eyes four times and tasered.

In the GUBAZiK office in Minsk, Mikalai was ‘grilled’ for about two hours. The officers forced Mikalai to his knees, demanding a password to the hard drive. When he said he did not remember the password, he was beaten with truncheons; after several refusals officer Ivan Tarasik said he was going to hit him in the genitals and urinate on him. They also threatened to rape him with a truncheon. When Mikalai broke down under torture and gave the password, it was entered incorrectly – and the policemen resumed battering him.

Before placing him in the detention centre, the punishers ‘strongly recommended’ he refrain from telling anyone the story of his signs of blows.

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