Fugitive Belarusian investigator detained in Russia without extradition request

Belarusian investigator Andrey Astapovich has been detained in Russia’s Pskov.

A few days ago he quit the Investigative Committee of Belarus (IC) and placed a post in social networks with an appeal to ‘kick out the dictator’. Lawyers are not allowed to see him. He was detained before the extradition request from Belarusian side, said editor-in-chief of Russian media outlet Pskov Province Denis Kamaliagin to Vot-tak.tv, citing the lawyer Vyacheslav Golovin.

Аndrey Astapovich. Photo: Instagram

Vyacheslav Golovin was appointed on August, 22 to defend Andrey Astapovich. A day earlier, his defendant was detained in a hotel room of the Riga hotel. He was there waiting for a Latvian visa. Astapovich crossed the border with Belarus near Smolensk, went to Moscow and arrived in Pskov from there, the editor-in-chief of Pskov Province said.

According to Astapovich’s lawyer, the special services tracked him from Moscow: “It was a matter of technology to detain him, despite the fact that he took a number of precautions, such as not using his phone. Now, according to the lawyers, he is being held at the Zavilichensky police department of Pskov. Everything that the lawyers have so far been able to achieve was to have him fed. But the lawyer is not allowed to see him. Golovin is afraid that he won’t be allowed in tomorrow as well, because it’s the weekend. This is an ordinary police department, not a special one, they don’t work around the clock,” explains Denis Kamaliagin.

The lawyer is afraid that by Monday morning the extradition documents will have been received from Belarus and Astapovich will be sent back: “These documents are definitely not available yet, so it’s impossible to say why he was detained. Now there is an assumption that the main reason may be the accusation of illegal border crossing due to the limitations of coronavirus epidemic.”

A few days ago, senior investigator of Partizanski district department of the IC Andrey Astapovich posted a photo with a report in Instagram, by which he initiated the termination of the contract ‘due to violations of its terms by the IC management’. At the time of publication, this post had been removed from Astapovich’s account, but screenshots remained in the publications of some media outlets.

In the post, to which five pages of the report were attached, Astapovich wrote: “Citizens, fight to the victorious end, we will expel the dictator and lawlessness together with him!”

People all over the country took to the streets because of mass falsifications in favour of the first and still the only Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The law enforcers violently dispersed the protest, detained and beat random passers-by in masses. At least three people were killed during the protests. Reporting on the first three days of rallies, the Interior Ministry reported that 6,700 people had been detained. Some of them have already been released under an obligation not to participate in the protests. They told about the torture by law enforcers in detention centers. Initially, the Belarusian Ministry of Health spoke about at least 250 injured protesters, admitted to hospitals with injuries.

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