Young Minskers miraculously survived after a grenade flew into their car from the security forces. As a result, the man had a ruptured eardrum, while the girl had a hemorrhage in her eyes. Both have multiple shrapnel wounds.
A young IT guy Alyaksei and his girlfriend Valeriya, a clothes designer, were in a car on the way to their friends. They were planning to walk with them in the streets of the evening Minsk after the working day on August 10. The couple were heading to the Kaskad complex. When passing the Pushkinskaya metro station, they got into a traffic jam. Protesters, seeking free and fair elections in Belarus, took to the street in this area. Riot police were gathered nearby.
“People were waiting in cars, as the rally was peaceful. Every now and then they got out of cars to stretch their legs and share water. There were families with children,” said Valeryia.
When the explosions and shots by law enforcement officials began to be heard, the couple still felt quite safe. It seemed to them that the situation was getting worse, but events were unfolding somewhere far away and they thought they wouldn’t be affected.
“We didn’t think we’d be shot at. Next to us in the traffic jam there were city buses and trolleybuses, even though they were almost empty. We did not think that police would fire in this direction,” said Alyaksei.
Suddenly a grenade flew in their direction, hit the car and exploded. “We were sitting in the car. Suddenly there was an explosion and silence. I was stunned, I couldn’t feel or understand anything. I couldn’t see myself. I looked around, there was blood everywhere. Alyaksei was all coovered in blood. We jumped out of the car and didn’t know where to run. There were people running away and they gave us a direction to escape. Without them, we could not have done it,” said Valeryia.
According to Alyaksei, then sitting in the driver’s seat, the grenade hit the part between the windshield and the roof, just above his face: “There was a flash, followed by darkness and silence. In his opinion, the grenade could not have been thrown by hand. It was about 300 metres from their car to the riot police – no one would have done it at that distance.
“Apparently, they fired from mortars or hand grenade launchers. And purposefully targeted people. At that, we didn’t hear any warning about the attack or shots,” said Alyaksei.
In the chaos and panic, one couldn’t call an ambulance, as the phone line was overloaded. In addition, doctors were unlikely to get to the victims, as the roadway remained blocked. The girl and the guy were picked up by a taxi driver who was driving frightened people from the scene for free.
“We were driving on the side of the road, on the lawns, and passers-by were walking towards us and they didn’t understand where we were going. So I stuck out the window and showed people bloody clothes. They saw it and stepped aside,” recalls Valeryia.
The driver took the couple to the nearest medical facility — it turned out to be maternity hospital № 2 in Minsk.
“They were shocked there, but took us in and called an ambulance,” added the girl.
The young people were taken to a military hospital, where they were more thoroughly treated. But there were rumours in the hospital that the Investigative Committee was interested in all the victims of the protests and it was be better not to stay there.
“Alyaksei was very badly injured. He had very deep wounds, a bad wound to the chest, holes in his arms and legs, so he had to stay. And I could walk, so I decided to go home,” said Valeryia.
The next two days she went to her friends to change bandages. They pulled a piece of glass out of her leg. But all the time she couldn’t hear well, she needed IVs and antibiotics, so she went to a doctor, who sent her to the Republican Center of Otolaryngology on Sukhoi Street in Minsk.
The girl was diagnosed with an explosive wound, shrapnel wounds of the lower and upper extremities, neck, face, damage to the tympanic membranes, hemorrhage in the eyes, foreign bodies in the eyes.
“I am more or less fine. But Alyaksei, my husband, has a burst eardrum, and he’s a musician playing in a band. And it’s very important to him. I don’t know how he will cope,” says the girl.
Alyaksei has combined injuries, combined trauma to the head, extremities, chest, abdomen, numerous shrapnel blind wounds to the neck, chest, both hands, right forearm, anterior abdominal wall, left femur and lower leg, damage to the eardrum, traumatic rupture of the right eardrum, acute bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.
“I hope that we did not suffer in vain … I would very much like it to never happen again in our country,” stresses Alyaksei.
“We were in a traffic jam. Under what kind of law do riot police shoot people in traffic jams? What is this? Sorry doesn’t cut it. The people responsible for it must be punished by law,” says Valeryia.
Viktar Shukelovich/ belsat.eu