Conditions in the remand prison in Akrestsin Street continue to deteriorate after the events of 2020. The prison is specially creating ‘comfortable conditions with a 180-degree turn’, as a man with a voice similar to Maksimovich, the deputy head of the Minsk regional executive committee police department, said in a recent leakage from ‘Cyberpartisans’. Apart from unsanitary conditions, lack of mattresses and overcrowded cells, people are not given proper medical care. All this is happening against the background of the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Last week it became known that 53-year-old Alena Amelina from Minsk had died as a result of the covid complications after serving an administrative arrest in the remand prison in Akrestsin Street. The woman became infected there. But how numerous such cases are in reality, is actually unknown.
Since October, the remand prison in Akrestsin Street has not been receiving parcels for detainees allegedly due to the epidemic situation with the coronavirus. The situation was the same last year. They take only medicines, but it is not known whether they reach the recipient.
Due to the refusal to take parcels people cannot get warm things, which worsens the situation: it is much easier to get sick now, especially in the cells, where people are forced to sleep on the floor. Also, in overcrowded cells it is much easier to get a coronavirus infection.
Detainees arriving at the detention centre and then at the pre-trial detention centre are not checked for COVID-19. They do not pass PCR tests, do not sit in quarantine, so absolutely anyone can be a covid carrier. And in an environment where the cells are overcrowded and there is no ventilation, it all worsens the situation with the number of covid cases.
Paracetamol as the main medicine
According to the detainees in Akrestsin Street, there were people with symptoms of coronavirus infection in all the cells where they were being held, but none of the administration paid much attention to it. After leaving the remand prison, some took PCR tests on their own, and the results were positive.
“I got to Akrestsin Street in the summer. Everyone was sick. After leaving, I was hospitalized for a week, and on sick leave for another three weeks,” a Belsat reader says about his days in the remand prison.
“Medical care in the remand prison is minimal, as are the types of medicines for various cases of diseases. Thus, the main drug for covid symptoms is paracetamol. Antibiotics are given in extreme cases, you had to fight to get them,” the Belsat reader tells.
“I was at the remand prison in June-July 2021. About five days later I got sick with covid, because there were ill people in the cell. Nothing but paracetamol and aspirin were going to treat it, despite the fact that we were clearly talking about the lack of smell and the obvious high temperature.
Of the two medics, only one woman listened to us and transferred the worst in terms of well-being to a separate cell, without exceeding the number of occupants. The second one said: “You had time to run around the squares with flags, and I don’t have time for you now,” another Belsat reader says.
The woman, who was detained in early August for 15 days, said that she had caught covid in the cell, but the nurse also gave her only paracetamol, nothing more:
“Due to exhaustion, I lay on the bed during the day, which, according to their rules, was forbidden. As punishment, I was taken alone to the yard for 4 or 5 hours, I do not know for sure. I can’t say that it was a terrible punishment: they offered the girls to wash the corridors for the right to go for a walk, and I got the right to walk as a punishment.”
The detainees say that probably everyone in the remand prison suffered from a coronavirus infection to some degree of severity.
“In July 2021, I was in Akrestsin Street, where I fell ill with covid. I had a runny nose and a cough, I lost sense of smell, and I got only paracetamol for a few days and a cough pill twice. Later they started saying that the medicine was over, and they don’t know when they will get it. Regarding the absence of smell, they said that was due to a runny nose, and in general, if there is a runny nose, it is not covid.
At the time probably everyone in the cell fell ill with covid: everyone had a cough, fever or both. One day a woman even fainted, but the nurse or of Akrestsin’s employees never found time to examine her,” Belsat readers recall.
Such indifference on the part of the administration and doctors is observed not only in Akrestsin Street in Minsk, but also in the remand prisons of Baranavichy and Zhodzina, where most of the detainees in the Zeltsar case have been transferred recently. Readers report that in the Baranavichy pre-trial detention centre a whole 14-people cell may be suffering from covid, and such cells are numerous. And medical care may not be given for several days.
Unlike temporary detention facilities, there is little information about the coronavirus in pre-trial detention centres or colonies, but it is known that those involved in criminal cases held in remand prisons have the opportunity to be vaccinated, at least against seasonal flu.