Ihar Yarmolau, a former IT specialist and now the owner of a dance school, joined Viktar Babaryka’s campaign team as a volunteer in the summer of 2020. The man was collecting signatures for the presidential hopeful in Kastrychnitski district of Minsk.
Now Ihar is being held in the notorious KGB prison ‘Amerykanka’. Like some other people linked to Viktar Babaryka, he may be accused of making preparations for mass riots.
On August 12, Ihar was detained and severely beaten in his own apartment. It took his family some time to find him.
“The son got out of touch on August 12 at 6:40 pm, we were in search of him for two days. We started calling all the phone number we had to get information about the detainees. The telephones of police departments and prisons were permanently busy or the calls were not answered. Ihar’s friends helped us. They said that according to the neighbours, unknown people had taken him from home,” Ihar’s mother Svyatlana Yarmolava said.
Later, it turned out that Ihar had been battered during the detention.
“Unknown thugs broke into his apartment. Ordering him to lie down on the floor, they threw on his head the first thing that came to hand, shorts. And they began to brutally kick him. When asked by his father if he had been severely beaten, he replied: “They were hitting hard, Dad.” He has a closed craniocerebral trauma, a broken rib, chest and abdomen injures, hematomas on his arms, legs and all over his body,” the relatives say.
Ihar was also subjected to intensive psychological pressure. When he was in the KGB hospital, family and lawyers were not allowed to see him; plainclothes persons were guarding his ward.
To date, eleven volunteers of the united election teams’ headquarters have been detained. All of them are charged under Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (organising mass riots). A criminal case has not yeat been opened against Ihar; his family and lawyers are trying to bring the situation into public eye.
On August 20, the Belarusian human rights community has issued a statement recognising activists from the united headquarters as political prisoners.