Police beat doctor who helped police brutality victims

Alyaksei Byalastotski, a 31-year-old urologist from the 4th Minsk Clinical Hospital, was arrested while helping to remove salt from an inscription in memory of the murdered Alyaksandr Taraykouski. The doctor was beaten in a minibus and at the police station. He was taken to hospital from the remand center in Akrestina by ambulance in serious condition.

Alyaksei Byalastotski. Photo from personal archive

“I asked not to break my arms because I’m a doctor”

It all happened on September 2, Alyaksei told Belsat.eu. That evening, around 7:00 p.m., he was on his way to his father’s place. He saw a crowd of people near the Pushkinskaya metro station and decided to find out if anyone needed medical help. Alyaksei parked the car and came to the people. Here is the doctor’s story about what happened next:

“I saw people removing the salt from the memorial inscription in memory of the murdered Alyaksandr Taraykouski. Fortunately, no one needed medical help, but I decided to join the salt harvest. And suddenly I heard a police officer trying to disperse people, intimidating them with punishmen for participating in an unauthorized mass event, demanding documents. I asked who he was and where he came from, and asked him to present ID. He did not want to introduce himself, but said he would take me to the police department.

Alyaksei Byalastotski. Photo from personal archive

Then another man in civilian clothes approached and demanded to disperse, as repair work was allegedly being carried out there. We asked where the fence was or something that indicated repairs? This man came closer and touched me. I told him not to touch me. He ordered me to leave. I asked if it was a request or an order? He said it was a request. I then said that I would not comply with his request, because why would I? In his eyes I saw that it would not end at the police department for me.

And soon I saw about ten strong men in civilian clothes and masks and caps. They tried to surround me, but people shielded me. The men pulled me out and dragged me to the bus, where they started beating me. They twisted my arms. I asked them not to break them because I was a doctor, but no one listened.

At first I tried to escape when they beat me, but soon I got tired. I was put on the floor. One of them covered my face with a T-shirt and held me like that, the second searched my phone, and the third, the one I asked to show the documents, beat me and swore at me”.

“My back hurt, I was sick — in this state I was taken to court”

Alyaksei was brought to the Frunzensky District Department of Internal Affairs. There he was beaten again.

“They threw me on the floor, there were two strong blows to the head, they probably kicked me. Then I was told to get up, and a plainclothes officer hit me in the chest, again with swearing and shouting.

One of the police officers told me: we respect doctors, appreciate them, fill out the paperwork and we will release you. Two reports were drawn up against me – for participating in an unauthorized mass event and resisting police officers. I began to add my explanations, as much of the protocols did not correspond to reality. Well, in the end I was taken to the Akrestsina remand center.

I was no longer beaten there. When they brought me, I said my back hurt. I was promised an ambulance. But they never called it, and I was taken to the cell. I spent the night in pain. In the morning, a paramedic examined me and also said that they would solve the issue with an ambulance call — she saw that my condition was not very good. My back hurt, I was urinating with blood.

Alyaksei Byalastotski. Photo from personal archive

After breakfast I tried to sleep, but I was shaking, I was sick and I started to vomit. They called the medic, she measured my blood pressure, said it was high, injected me with painkillers. The pain subsided a little, but the nausea and vomiting continued.

In this state I was taken to court hearing via Skype. I couldn’t lift my head in front of the computer, I was very sick, my neck and head hurt, I was sick. The judge told me to look up. I told her I couldn’t do it, my neck hurt, my head would not lift up. I filed a motion to postpone the trial due to ill health. I was finally called an ambulance and taken to hospital on suspicion of a closed head injury, kidney injury and back injury. The hospital confirmed all this and around 15:00 on September 3 I was hospitalized.

Today I feel more or less normal. It is difficult for me to sit down, get up, walk up the stairs. In addition to the traumatic brain injury and kidney injury, fractures of the lumbar vertebrae were found, and it is not yet clear what exactly the injury is. Also today I was examined by an ENT doctor who said that my right eardrum was damaged and there was some hemorrhage”.

“Part of the testicle had to be removed after the beating, the tissue was dead”

Alyaksei Byalastotski helped the brutalized victims of the security forces in the pre-trial detention center in Zhodzina and Akrestsina, saved a guy who may never become a father after the beating.

“On August 14, an acquaintance called me and said that people who were being released from prison in Zhodzina needed medical help. My wife and I – she is also a doctor – went there. People came out with severe bruises, hematomas.

I had a very serious case the next day in Minsk. On August 15, I was on a day shift. We received a man from Akrestsina with a scrotal injury, he needed surgery. The injury was clearly the result of a brutal beating. The man received it on August 10. And the operation was performed only on 15th, quite late. So I had to remove part of the testicle, as the tissue there was already dead. Of course, this can seriously affect this person’s fertility.

What is happening to us is complete disgrace and lawlessness. I can’t find another word. Who is to blame? First of all, the current president, who is holding on to his power with his blue fingers, and the security forces who support him. We no longer have law enforcement agencies. After all, they do not rightly guard what they should do, but create, God knows what. If they need it, the law works, if they don’t need it, it doesn’t work.

I will appeal both the protocols drawn up against me and demand that those who beat me be brought to justice. While I was in jail, my friends and wife found lawyers and raised some money to help me. I will fight for my rights even in our situation when the laws do not work. And I think we all have to fight. I’ve seen the eyes of people taking to the streets these weeks, and I can’t believe they can give up and dance to the tune of a mentally ill person again.

Even before all these events, I was thinking of leaving Belarus. But now that I see people coming out to protest, I believe we can change everything. So I put off thinking about leaving for now. I want to try to bring order to my country”.