Ihar Barysau, chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), received a letter from Ryhor Kastusiou, the imprisoned leader of the Belarusian People’s Front party. The photo of the letter was published by RFE/RL.
Kastusiou writes that he ‘got corona’, i.e. he fell ill with COVID-19 behind bars; in particular, he lost the sense of smell. In addition, the politician is facing kidney problems and suspected cancer. The man is being held in the notorious KGB detention centre ‘Amerykanka’. He repeatedly appealed for changing the measure of restraint, but ‘it did not work’. Moreover, no investigative actions are being conducted while the diseases are progressing.
As it took the letter a long time to be delivered to Ihar Barysau, the situation could have changed, he added.
In May, the 64-year-old man was admitted to the prison hospital due to health deterioration, but it took the authorities three months to issue permission for screening Kastusiou for cancer. The results were not reported.
Ryhor Kastusiou is a suspect in the ‘coup’ case, the investigation of which was extended until October. Not long ago, Belarusian state-run TV released a report about his alleged confession; in turn, the politician flatly denied his guilt and expressed outrage over spreading false information by pro-Lukashenka media.
On April 17, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Belarusian opposition activists Alyaksandr Fyaduta, Ryhor Kastusiou, and Yury Zyankovich who were arrested in Belarus and Russia, had been allegedly preparing a coup d’etat and an attempt on him with the help of American special services. This information was then confirmed by the KGB of Belarus and the FSB of Russia. According to intelligence agencies, Zyankovich and Fyaduta consulted with representatives of the United States and Poland and planned to carry out a coup in Minsk on May 9. Lukashenka also claims that the ‘FBI or CIA’ and their accomplices were going to capture one or two children of him and put them in a cellar located in Homiel region.
After the coup d’etat, the conspirators and the opposition intended to ask for NATO troops to enter Belarus, which could become a springboard for an attack on Russia, Lukashenka believes.
“They had to supposedly come to power here for a day and declare that they were in power. To do what? To ask for NATO troops to enter the territory of Belarus and put them on the eastern border near Smolensk. It was a springboard – I always told you – to attack Russia. It was the first step,” he said during a visit to Homiel region in late April.
When delivering his address to the Federal Assembly, Russian leader Vladimir Putin slammed ‘the collective West’ for their allegedly turning blind eye to the attempted assassination of Lukashenka. In turn, the United States denied any involvement in the reported assassination attempt on Lukashenka. Independent experts consider the attempted ‘military coup’ a staged and provocative act by Belarusian special services.
As part of the case, nine people were charged with ‘conspiracy or other actions committed for the purpose of seizing state power’ (Article 357-1 of the Criminal Code). According to the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB), Zyankovich’s assistant Volha Halubovich, former counter terrorism officer Ihar Makar, psychiatrist Dzmitry Shchyhelski, former OMON officer Pavel Kulazhanka, scientist Alyaksandr Perapechka, activist Vital Makaranka were also engaged in the widely reported coup attempt.