"They threw my skateboard away and told me I feigned a broken arm." Survivor stories
The Human Rights Center "Viasna” and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) launched a campaign to document cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of protesters on August 9-13. Some testimonies of people who survived torture and violence will be published on our website as evidence of crimes committed by security forces.
The story of 20-year-old Minsk resident Ivan Yeutukhou cause a stir on the Internet: on September 23, the guy was detained by riot policemen; one of them took a ride on Ivan's skateboard and threw it in the garbage. Ivan told "Viasna" the details of what happened: during the detention, his arm was broken and no ambulance was called, even when he reported a heart condition. The doctor at Žodzina detention center said that his arm was fine because it had not swollen up. The guy received medical attendance only after the trial.
Ivan says that he has been skateboarding for 7 years and rides every night – this was the case on September 23.
"I couldn't even imagine that that day would be any different from the rest," the young man recollects. "That night, I was passing along my usual route in the area of Niamiha: I was riding and listening to music when suddenly I felt a push from behind. I fell down, flipped over, literally in 5 seconds I was already on the ground. I got up, walked a couple of meters, but I was brought down and I twisted on the ground. I would like to emphasize: I didn't take part in the protest; that evening was an ordinary leisure time for me.
When detaining me, they pressed me to the ground very hard and broke my arm. I was welcomed roughly in the police van: they immediately put me face to the floor, started to frighten me and asked for my phone. Before handing it to them I managed to call my father and tell about the detention. It took my relatives 24 hours to find me."
Despite the fact that Ivan asked to call an ambulance, nobody helped him.
"I felt very bad," he said. "Moreover, I have a heart condition. But nobody paid attention to it. At Zavodski police department, where I was brought, various officers promised to call a doctor, but I never saw them come. They only said that the sooner I signed the offense reports, the sooner an ambulance would come to get me. I signed everything without reading it, they took me out to the street, but instead of calling the ambulance they threw me back to the police van – for a transfer to Žodzina detention center."
There the young man was placed near the wall, he was afraid to turn his head. But eventually, he was taken to the doctor.
"He gave me some medicine for the heart, but he said that I feigned a broken arm," Ivan explains. "He said that it didn't swell up, so everything was fine. Afterwards, I saw a man with a badly injured head in the cell.”
Then there was a trial. Two administrative offense reports were drawn up against the young man – for participation in an unauthorized mass event and resistance during arrest. But he was able to prove that there had been no resistance and eventually received a $50 fine for participation in a protest. Ivan saw a doctor after leaving the detention center: the doctor diagnosed a broken arm, numerous contusions and bruises.
"I didn't even think about the skateboard back then: I noticed that it wasn't there only in the police van. After the video of my detention had been posted online, some kind people took it out of the trash and handed it over to my friends. It's a bit shabby but essentially fine: just like me," Ivan jokes.
More stories of people who survived police violence and torture:
"The man in civvies said very rudely, 'Show me your leg.' I couldn't roll up my pants, so I said, 'There are a lot of men here, maybe you should invite a policewoman.' He said, 'I don't care, come on, take them off.' I had to take down my pants and stand in my underwear just in the middle of the assembly hall.
Andrei Kazanovich, a member of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party, was detained by the riot police in Minsk in the evening of August 10. He did not make it to the detention center at Akrescin Street and had no time to sign the administrative offense report at the police department where he had been taken because after the beating he lost consciousness and was taken to hospital. But this did not prevent Kazanovich from being charged with participating in an unauthorized protest.
Minsk resident Piotr Kiryk was detained at about midnight on August 12 when he was getting off a bus with a friend (between Malinaŭka and Piatroŭščyna metro stations). The boy was 16 years old (17 at the moment), but this did not stop the riot police from using force against him.
Some 10 minutes later another van arrived and they threw me there, face against the wall and hands behind my back. There were about 10 people in the cage, including a girl – she was detained because she had bandages and cotton wool in her bag. She was psychologically pressured and cursed.
18-year-old Illia was detained on August 11 near "Pushkinskaya" metro station when he was driving to his native city. He told "Viasna" how inhumanely he was treated and beaten in the police department and in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
Stas and his friend were walking along Arlouskaya Street when they were overtaken by two vans with tinted windows. A law enforcement officer wearing a green uniform came out. The couple asked him how dangerous it was to go forward.
28-year-old Minsk resident Uladzislau Salavei, a kindergarten teacher assistant, was detained on August 9 and placed in the detention center in Akrescin Street. There, he was sentenced to 14 days of arrest and then transferred to a compulsory rehabilitation center near Sluck to serve his time.
Maryia Ambrosava from Minsk told Viasna how she and her husband Yury went to a police station on August 10 to report their son missing, but found themselves in a police van and spent four days in the detention center in Akrescin Street. All these days, they were not aware that their son had been released, so when people were shouting from beatings, Maryia felt it was her son who was screaming.
Aliaksei Prakharenka works as a taxi driver in Minsk. On August 11, he was driving a client when he was stopped and then detained by road policemen. During the detention, they broke Aliaksei's arm. That was the reason why he spent only half an hour in the detention center in Akrescin Street. Nevertheless, in this short time, he had to see a lot.
Siarhei Herasimovich was detained on 10 August at 9 p.m. near the Yubileynaya Hotel in Minsk. He was walking with his journalist colleagues when the cars on the avenue started beeping. Siarhei raised his hand in a Victory sign. Suddenly, the riot police shouted: "Come here!" The journalist walked up and was brutally thrown into the police van where the policemen started beating him with batons.
18-year-old Uladzimir Pahartsau says that he was not beaten so hard compared to other detainees, because he was chosen to give an interview to a state TV channel about the “coordinators of the protests.”
23-year-old Yury Panamarou was detained in the evening of August 11 on his way to a street food market in central Minsk. He told Viasna about the cruelty of his unjustified detention and the conditions under which he was kept for two days in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
On August 11, Dzianis Selivankin was approached by two police officers at the intersection of Pieramožcaŭ Avenue and Mieĺnikajte Street. They asked for his ID. Dzianis replied that he had no passport with him. Then the young man was forced to unlock his smartphone. What they saw in Dzianis’s Telegram enraged them.
Vasil Hushcha (48) was detained in the evening of August 9 near the Maskva cinema next to Niamiha street. He was freed in the morning of August 14. Vasil told “Viasna” about the tortures in the detention center on the Akrescin Street, his transfer to a prison in Žodzina (60 km from Minsk) and the conditions there.
Hleb was detained on August 11 near the shopping center “Skala”. He says that the riot policemen detained him when he simply walked down the street with headphones on his head. He spend the next three days in the police station of Maskouski district, then in the detention center on Akrescin Street and finally in a correctional facility in Sluck.
I turned up by chance, they put me in a bus or in a police van, I don't remember which. They took my phone away at once, broke it, asked for the password, I do not understand on what grounds. Then they took me to the Maskoŭski police department. They didn't beat me much in the police van, but started beating in the police department.
A Minsk resident was detained on August 9 and left the Center for the Confinement of Offenders on the morning of August 12. All this time he, like the other detainees, was deprived of food. Forty people were held in a six-men cell, and riot police insulted and beat people at night. The guy, who chose to remain anonymous, agreed to tell Viasna what he had to go through.