Belsat.eu continues to publish stories shared by the victims of police brutality. Faina S. says she did not attend protest rallies either before or after the presidential election. Nevertheless, over the past months she has landed up in the detention centre in Akrestsin street and in hospital; she has also been summoned to the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus.
Faina is 23 years old. Before August 6, she worked as a marketing specialist at an IT company. The girl was arrested on August 11. As a result, she has to take medications on a regular basis, doctors say she might be feeling nauseous for the following month or two. To top it all, Faina’s eyesight has worsened; she, however, hopes for recovering.
“On August 11, my friend and I bought flowers and arrived at Pushkinskaya metro station to pay tribute to Alyaksandr Taraykouski who fell victim during peaceful protests. We came there at around 2 pm, stood for a while, had a cup of coffee and decided to go to Kupalauskaya metro station on foot. At about 5 pm we were in the city centre, but the Palace of the Republic and Trade Union Palace were cordoned off. We opted for getting to Nyamiha metro station instead. When walking, we showed our solidarity with the people around and greeted the cars that were passing by and honking. We dropped by a shop on Yanka Kupala Street, but a group of riot police officers rushed in, seized us by the arms and dragged outside.
First, they checked our mobile phones out. They scrolled through my pictures, chats and Telegram channels. Once they saw I was subscribed to Nexta channel, they said: “She’s one of them, take her”.
We were put in an ordinary yellow public bus standing behind the line of riot policemen. The bus windows were covered with shields so that passers-by could not see what was happening inside.
My friend was allowed to sit down, I was not. I felt no fear and could easily guess what would happen next. The policemen made attempts to talk to me. They resorted to excessive force only when dragging us from the store. As a result, I had several bruises left and three marks on my hand. They said they had nothing to do with it and it was just suntan.
We spent several hours in that bus, more arrested people kept being brought in. Riot police officers even arrested a man who simply asked them which metro stations were open so as to get home. When detaining men, they toed and batoned their feet. Once the arrested were taken to the bus, they had to squat with their hands being strapped behind the heads.
One of the detainees was laid face down on the bus floor. Internal troops dressed in the olive uniform entered the bus and stepped on him; they were walking on his shoulders and neck as if he was a carpet. Then each of us was brought to their knees face down so that we could not see where we were being taken to. When we arrived, upon leaving the bus, they held us by the hand and neck, our heads constantly down.
We were taken up against the wall, hands up and open, feet shoulder width apart. Needless to say, they humiliated and called us names a lot. We were standing there for a very long time, until it got totally dark.
Personal search was held outside in the open. An officer put on regular gloves and thoroughly examined me. During the search, my underwear got torn – I am still not sure whether it was by accident or not.
We were taken to the yard then. There was a man sitting on a chair with his legs crossed. He was apparently enjoying the show. Every time he said he could not see enough tension in our bodies, we got beaten. The men were told to take their shoes off and run on the spot while the police officers were shouting: ‘Run to your mummy Tsikhanouskaya’.
They also kept asking what our names are, where we studied, why we were arrested and so on. During yet another time when a riot police officer came up to me, he said “Get down to your knees and apologise”. I said I would not do that. The next second I got hit on my head with a bat. within about five minutes I felt very bad. I said I was losing my consciousness. They replied: “How dare you get unconscious, we have not passed you round yet”. I was fainting and the voices around were getting indistinct.
When I came to my senses, I was lying on the pavement in a very weird position. There were two women in front of me – they were far from being gentle. They were plainclothed, and as far as I understood, they were doctors of the internal medical unit. One of them grabbed me by my hair and pulled me so that I could sit against the wall at her convenience. The other woman tucked a cotton ball with ammonia into my nose. I could barely breathe due to that and was getting cramps in my hands. That was probably the thing that did have a certain impact on them. Before that they were certain I was pretending. They made me take some pill.
There is a funny story about this pill. It did not have any immediate effect and I had to hold it for around 30 minutes under my tongue. In the meantime, an ambulance car arrived. They performed a cardiogram, my pulse was 155 – it was obviously tachycardia. At that moment the pill started having its effect. I could move neither my hands nor legs, I could not even close my mouth. It might be too much detail, but even my saliva dropped onto my skirt as I could not close my mouth. I had to sit like that for an hour.
Then they took me back to the yard again to make an inventory of my stuff and file a report. I simply could not walk and they had to drag me. My body just went out fully. At that moment one of the officers of a certain age said: “Why would you help this drug addict at all! It is obvious she is high on drugs, just ditch her and someone will find her there.”
I was waiting for another ambulance car for a long time. As far as I understood, their priority were people who had open wounds or other grave injuries. Then they brought me in to sign a report, but I could not even clench a fist. I made them a sign that I was not able to write. Eventually, they recorded that I refused to sign the report in the presence of witnesses. However, I have not been tried under that report yet.
I got to the trauma unit of the emergency hospital at midnight. It is also important to note that we got to the emergency through some other yard, not the one they made the inventory of our staff in. There was a very bright street lamp and I noticed there was a lot of blood on the ground. I am going to have my sandals examined as the blood is left on them too.
Surprisingly, the ambulance did not record where I was taken to the hospital from, no real help was provided to me and no one even examined me properly. Only the doctor who was treating me later, explained it to me that most likely I was given tramadol at the detention centre.
I spent around a week in the hospital. I was diagnosed with a close head and brain injury, concussion, leg injuries. I still have chest contusion and other injuries, a lot of bruises all over my body.
I was looking through the lists of detainees, since the report had been drawn upon me, but my name was not added though.
A week later, I got a subpoena to the Investigative Committee of Savetski District of Minsk. During the conversation with an investigator I kept being asked about the elections but not about my beating. I was asked how I learnt about the presidential candidates, which media sources I read, which devices I use to surf the Internet. They asked me whether I voted. As the investigator explained, everyone who is in some way linked to facts of beatings becomes an indirect participant in a criminal case regarding organising and participating in the civil unrest.
At the fifth attempt only did we return back to my beating. They recorded the story I told them. I was handed in an order for a forensic examination, and I underwent it. At that, the court ruling says that I was beaten up by unidentified persons somewhere in Minsk because it was not recorded where the ambulance brought me from.
Based on the examination and my evidence, a criminal case must have been initiated… I called the investigator several times, but no one picked up the phone.”
Faina’s lawyer Alena Shynkarevich made a comment on the situation:
“The evidence of the injuries received by Faina S. due to illegal actions by the third parties was transferred to the Investigative Committee of Savetski district of Minsk. The legal investigator interrogated the victim and her friend; the latter testified about what had happened. What the investigator was interested during the interrogation was her political opinions and the contents of her phone. No question about persons who had beaten my client was put. I think it is obvious that the investigator’s goal was getting information on her alleged involvement in the civil unrest (which he mentioned himself), rather than probing into her beating.
The criminal case has not been opened yet. The investigator has not picked up the phone for several days. Is it alright? No, not at all. We can see how the authorities keep opening cases against the civilians peacefully claiming they were deceived during elections. The authorities are in no hurry to investigate the crimes committed against the civilians though.
Let me remind you that according to the second clause of the Constitution, a person, their civil rights, freedoms and the guarantee of their provision are supposed to be the absolute highest value and goal of both society and government. It breaks my heart to imagine where the government that disregards those might be heading to.”
Since the start of peaceful protests on August 9, over 14,000 people have been detained in Belarus, human rights defenders report.
More than 1,000 complaints have been submitted by the citizens of Belarus to the Investigative Committee. As of the publication date, not a single criminal case over police abuse has been initiated yet.