A lot of people detained in the first days of the post-election protests were reported to be taken to the premises of the occupational therapy detox centre near the Belarusian town of Slutsk (Minsk region).
“It was obvious that the whole territory had just been screened by high fencing. It was made of fresh wood which had not even darkened yet. The fence was five metres high. And the watchtowers were all-new. As in the camps, the guards were standing there. Everything was absolutely ‘fresh’,” Dzmitry Dzmitryeu, a Novy Chas photographer and former detainee, said in the interview.
In late January, a person who claims to have participated in the construction of the camp mentioned above contacted Radio Svaboda, the Belarusian service of RFE/RL. He also sent photos in which Dzmitry Dzmitryeu has recognised the place where he and other protesters were being held.
“On August 10, the Corrections Department was instructed to urgently prepare one of its facilities for setting up a camp. It was decided to use compulsory rehabilitation centre Nr 3 (LPP-3) near Slutsk for this purpose. The people who were being treated there at that moment were immediately transferred to other centres. On August 12, LPP-3 was ready for being used as a venue for keeping citizens under paramilitary guard,” Radio Svaboda’s source said.
According to him, the staff did not know for whom that camp was being equipped. The company based at LPP-3 was tasked with developing and manufacturing watchtowers within one day; the territory was divided into squares. The LPP-3 patients were forced to help in establishing the camp: they dug pits, installed poles, made barbed-wire obstacles. The beds were carried by a dump truck.
The would-be camp was intended for up to 2,000 detainees. Inside the camp, the Correction Department officers were in charge of security; the perimetre and the surrounding forest were guarded by Defence Ministry servicemen.
The source recalls that there was the order to make transportable watchtowers so that they could be used elsewhere. The detainees were taken to the camp on August, 14, but a day later, they started to be released en masse, he stressed. Then the camp was quickly dismantled.
In mid January, By_Pol, a campaign created by opposition-minded people who earlier belonged to Belarusian uniformed services, made public an audio recording in which a man whose voice bears a strong resemblance to the voice of Deputy Interior Minister Mikalai Karpyankou refers to the instructions allegedly given by Alyaksandr Lukashenka on how to treat protesters and opponents of the regime. Among other things, the man mentions would-be adding the dissidents’ data to a special database and setting up a camp where ‘the cockiest [protesters] are to be kept’.