Babruisk historian and journalist speaks about arrest and beatings

Ales Chyhir is a well-known public figure in Babruisk. He is a teacher, journalist, former deputy of the City Council. On August 10, he and his wife were attacked by riot police. Ales was brought to the detention center, where he spent six days.

“Now it will be like this: you will be beaten, you will be threatened.”

The day after the presidential election, on August 10, Ales, according to a long family tradition, went to meet his wife Danuta at work in the evening. The woman works as a pharmacist. The historian returned home on August 16 after being behind bars.

Ales Chyhir. The photo from Ales

“When I was near the pharmacy where my wife works, I saw people in black uniforms attacking a young guu and taking him to the bus. I recorded all of this on my phone, commented on the lawlessness that’s going on in our city. I quietly went to the pharmacy to see my wife, she was about to close, and suddenly there were police…

I can’t call them police. They were men in black, with their faces closed. They started knocking on the door, then they broke the door down, they pulled me out of the pharmacy, they literally threw me in the van. My wife was pushed away hard, beaten up too.

They started beating me up badly on the way to the police station. One of the riot policemen shouted abuses. He beat me with a truncheon, other riot policemen beat me with their hands, slapped me, hit me on the head, on the hands. When we came to the police station, they pulled me out and promised to break my arms. I fell on the asphalt, they started hitting me when I was lying on the asphalt. Then the beating continued in the building, they beat me on my legs with batons as I went up the stairs to the second floor”.

Danuta Chyhir and Andrei Malakhau, deputy head of the Babruisk City Executive Committee, who was in charge of the arrests. The photo from Ales

Then I was knocked down and beaten up again, there were four or five of them. At that time they were giggling, they were having fun, they supposedly enjoyed beating up a 48-year-old lying man, the father of three children, who had 29 years of work experience. I was just tortured. It was done by people living among us, whom we meet daily on the streets, together with wives and children. Torture, bullying, no other name for it, they took great pleasure in this. It was all seen by women in police uniforms, and I saw them smirk too.

The highest point of torture was the threat to piss on me one at a time. If someone had told me about it on the morning of August 10, I would hardly have believed that it was possible.

The major who drafted the protocol told me that if I had gotten away with all this before, it would be different now, like this. You will be beaten, you will be threatened, you will be pissed on. Then we were taken to the detention facility. There, I saw the following picture: in front of the detention facility there was a line of paddy wagons — like cars that carry the harvest, but instead of grain there were people. According to the employees of the detention center, at night of August 11, about a hundred locals were taken to the remand center # 5. Almost all were beaten up”.

“A civil society was born outside the walls of the pre-trial detention center”

Chyhir said that he met many of his acquaintances, who had previously been completely apolitical.

“We, the detainees, supported and understood each other. It seemed to me that it was there, behind the walls of the 200-year-old Babruisk pre-trial detention facility, that I saw civil society being born”.

We were cut away from any information. We didn’t know what was going on outside. We were told that everything had calmed down, nobody needed us or was interested in us, but only our loved ones were spending the last money on us.

They kept us in inhuman conditions. The cells were dirty, there was pigeon droppings on the floor, there was no soap, no toilet paper, we slept on dirty mattresses, and sand fell out of the blankets. They gave us two spoons of rice porridge for breakfast, hardly any food.

Danuta Chyhir. The photo was provided to belsat.

The court session became the next stage of this bloody ballet. The masked judge was just read out the decision — who gets the fine, who gets jaill term. She wasn’t interested in what you could say, whether there were witnesses or not. So I got 15 days for allegedly participating in an unauthorized mass event. Some of them got less, some of them got more. But we were all hostages, targets for exemplary flogging. It was revenge on us for our position.

We were given to sign a paper that in case we fell into the hands of the police once again, we would be prosecuted under the criminal law, and the term would be from 8 to 15 years.

Over 26 years have not gone in vain. All this time our society has been pushed to mutual distrust, cruelty. The authorities have now shown their face. And we have been struck by this beastly anger. Outside, we see beautiful officials in ties and suits. And what’s underneath all that? Grabbing, hitting, punishing!