On January 12, the Department of Financial Investigations raided a children’s hospice in the Belarusian city of Hrodna. The staff say that one more lung ventilator could be seized from them.
According to them, the officers suddently broke into the building and scared their little patients. One boy took out his baptismal cross and began to pray.
The unexpected guests demanded the staff let take the hospice’s ventilator away. However, the workers did not unlock the warehouse where the medical device was stored, saying that only director Volha Vyalichka had the key. The officers threatened them with arrest, but they left when hearing that the reporters having cameras were heading to the scene.
A bit later, a priest who rents out the space to the hospice said he would be forced to obey the authorities and, if necessary, open all the rooms if the representatives of the department came back.
As reported earlier, one ventilator had already been confiscated from the organisation as part of the law enforcers’ checking its work. In December, a criminal case was initiated against Volha Vyalichka; she is suspected of ‘improperly using the funds obtained from sponsors’. If found guilty, she may face up to ten years in prison.
It should be noted that Vyalichka was an independent election observer and a member of the local initialive group of might-have-been presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka (he has been in custody since mid June). In the wake of the rigged elections in August, Volha and her associates tried to establish People’s Trust Council in Hrodna. The woman was also fined and arrested for ‘violating the rules of holding mass events’, i.e. participating in post-election peaceful protests.
Soon after serving a short jail term in October, Volha Vyalichka left Belarus together with her family. She says she immediately took the decision after getting information that the authorities were going to take away her two children.