In 2020, Belarus became a country with thousands of detained, beaten, tortured people. In its project ‘I Was Being Lucky’, Belsat TV tells the stories of 21 Belarusians who suffered police brutality.
Minsker Mikalai Izaitka is one of the dozens of people who were detained on empty streets when they were just returning home. The guy had a white bandage wrapped around his wrist. The officers of the internal troops saw it and said: “Everything is clear, we take him.” While the security forces were grabbing others, Mikalai was ordered to sit on the curb. The guy had the impression that the military had to get a standard number of detainees, because they took obviously random people: for example, a man who went out in the slippers to the gas station to buy beer.
They were met by riot police (OMON) at the Frunzenski Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk: they started beating them on the steps of the building. Then the detainees were handcuffed, taken to the gym and laid on the floor. The OMON officers were walking along the rows and beating them. Mikalai was beaten with the words: “Where is your Tsikhanouskaya now? As long as there are valiant Minsk police, you will not have any changes”. The guy was taken to a small room near the hall for a conversation, where all the tiles were covered in blood.
Mikalai was on his knees on the way to the isolation ward on Akrestsin Street and was beaten there as well – not so much with the truncheons as with fists and water bottles. He went out through the traditional corridor of the security forces.
A guard did not respond to detainees’ requests for medical care and water. When asked where they were taken, he answered: “On Hurski street” (on this street in Minsk there is a shelter for stray animals).
Ten hours later they were transferred to a 5-bed cell, where 33 people were kept. Sleeping or even just staying there was very difficult. At night officers came and had him sign a detention report with the words: “Well, did the OMON beat or educate you?” The trial over Mikalai lasted three minutes. “Participated, shouted, clapped his hands” – and traditionally the report showed the wrong time, the wrong place of detention. Judgment: 15 days in jail.
After a while the guy and other detainees were taken to the yard to wait for transportation to Slutsk. Mikalai had a sore knee (he was after the operation), his leg was swollen and he had trouble bending it. Standing for several hours on his knees was unbearably painful. Fortunately, the ambulance doctors noticed the condition of Mikalai’s leg and took the guy out of the isoration ward. At the hospital his leg was plastered, he was given injections and released.
Get acquainted with our interviewees and read their stories here.