‘I said goodbye to my family in my head’. Story of man detained at Pushkinskaya metro

At the Pushkinskaya metro station. Minsk, Belarus. August 10, 2020. Photo: Belsat.eu / Vot-tak.tv

The 35-year-old Minsk citizen Dzmitry was detained during protests near Pushkinskaya metro station in the evening on August 10. He was beaten badly, then taken to hospital. Dzmitry told belsat.eu what happened that night. Some photos need viewer discretion.

Dzmitry came to the Pushkinskaya metro station at around 8 p.m. on August 10. According to the man, within three hours, up to 11, more and more people were coming to the area. Then riot police came and cordoned off the protesters.

“At about 11 p.m., riot police started throwing flash grenades, firing rubber bullets. I was hit by four bullets for sure, maybe more. One flew by my ear, and I can’t hear very well now, it’s kind of like a contusion.

At some point, the riot police troops surrounded people, even covering the backyards, there was nowhere to retreat. Those who were detained, including me, were thrown to the ground. At first I tried to resist, but it was useless, as 10-15 people beat me with everything they could. Then they put my hands behind the back, threw me into a paddy wagon, into a cage together with three others. The wagon was completely filled with people. We had a man in his 50s with us. He felt sick, lacked air, and everyone started asking to let him out, let him breathe, or gave him water. And the riot police troops responded by pepper spraying the chamber where this man was sitting, and he got even worse. Instead of water and air, these sadists did this.

We were breathing this gas for forty minutes until we were brought to the final destination, I can’t even say where exactly, some police station or something. They put everyone on their knees in the backyard, tied our hands behind our backs and started beating us. Ten of them came at me again. Now all my body hurts – they hit me on the buttocks, legs, back, head. I was so beaten up that at some point I felt sick, I still can not breathe normally. They saw what they’d done, called the health workers. They put me and the beaten ones on the grass, gave me painkillers. One man had a broken nose, the other had a broken leg. They took us to the hospital, to traumatology unit. That’s where they examined us. I left the hospital and went home.

While I was being tested there, they made CT scans, I saw a beaten man being brought in every ten minutes.

I was diagnosed with a concussion. I had a hematoma all over the back of my head. They say there’s something wrong with my lungs. They couldn’t make it out right away, but they say there are cracks in my ribs and a lung is hurt. The rest of the organs seem to be fine. There’s a lot of bumps and bruises and so on.

They hit us with everything they could — legs, truncheons, shields. The attitude was as if they were trying to kill us. At some point I really thought I would be killed, that I would not see my family anymore, I said goodbye to them in my head. I can’t call them people.

They beat men, guys who stood at the wall, with their hands tied, who could not resist, could not do anything. They were beaten just for turning their heads. It was accompanied by terrible verbal abuse.

They said: did you want changes? Here are changes for you! You think you’re heroes? Who are you, anyway, that you decided you can go out and demand something?

I don’t know how it ends in the end. They just let me go, I have a certificate from the hospital. What happens next, I don’t know. No protocol has been drawn up. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came to me and knocked on the door. After what I saw, nothing would surprise me at all. There’s no conscience, no regret, no human traits left at all. I’m very afraid for my wife and my little daughter too.

Writing complaints? I don’t think it makes any sense. I’ve seen a lot of, let’s say, not the kindest and honest people in my life, but what I faced that night is outside any understanding of human cruelty. So I am convinced that all our complaints are meaningless. No one will consider them.

Minsk. Pushkinskaya metro station. Photo: Vadzim Zamirousky / TUT.BY

I care about the fate of Belarus and Belarusians. I’ve took part in rallies before, for example, when they wanted to introduce unemployment tax. But I haven’t seen so many people as now in the streets of Minsk. Tens of thousands. At some point, I felt real pride in the Belarusians.

But these… I don’t know what to call them, they’re not police anymore… They break people. And I see that Belarusians will not last for a long time. Our people are not so battle-stricken, but they will break the last will to fight. What happens next? It seems to me that nothing good will happen. One should only use force with such people who hold on to the power. They don’t understand anything else, they have nothing human anymore. I’m convinced they won’t understand us in a year or a lifetime. These young riot policemen have been brainwashed, it’s obvious. If they are told to kill, they’ll kill. I don’t have any doubts about that right now. Negotiation with this government is impossible.

At the Pushkinskaya metro station. Minsk, Belarus. August 10, 2020. Photo: Belsat.eu / Vot-tak.tv

What should people do? I don’t know… If we get broken now, all these young people, students, who stood there, will just leave Belarus. I also think about myself: should I, at 35, waste time in a country where I am not considered a person? I do not want to change my homeland, leaving it, but circumstances force me to leave. I have a daughter to raise. How is that possible in our circumstances? There are many like me who have been waiting for this election, hoping. But we’ve been spit in our souls, our hope stolen, we’ve been lied. I saw how many people were standing in lines at polling stations with white ribbons, all my friends. None of them voted for the current government. Our votes were stolen. But it was worth a try. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I hadn’t come out”.

Pushkinskaya metso station, Minsk, Belarus. August 10, 2020. Photo: Alyaksandr Vasyukovich / Vot-tak.tv / Belsat.eu