Andrei Kozel Detained and Battered on 25 March Tells His Story
Andrei Kozel was detained and beaten by police on Freedom Square during the Freedom Day celebration.
“I came to the Freedom Square at about 4.50 p.m. At that moment there were about 40 people who came to celebrate and about 40 agents in plain clothes. In a couple of minutes police colonel Hirel and two skin-headed people in plain clothes approached a group of teenagers (14-16 y.o.) and in aggressive form demanded they should leave the square. At this moment I came up to the colonel and asked what exactly he wanted and why he was bothering the young people. Than colonel Hirel tried to force me leave the square. I replied, as a citizen of the Republic of Belarus I could be wherever and whenever I want. The officer started to yell in dirty language and ordered his two skin-headed assistants to grab me. They immediately twisted my arms and led me to a police car. At that moment many people noticed the incident and surrounded us. Journalists came closer and asked Hirel about the reason for my detention. Hirel could not give a clear answer and they had to let me go. In about 5 minutes AMAP, or special police, arrived from Internatsyanalnaya Street. They lined up in a chain and, looking like members of punitive expedition during the fascist occupation, moved to the people. They came up to the people sitting on benches who possibly had nothing to do with the action and made them leave the square. At this moment I sat down on the ground to show resistance. I kept sitting until three AMAP officers forced me to stand up by twisting my arms. In 10 meters they turned me over to the skin-headed people who had detained me earlier. They led me in the direction of Niamiha subway station to an AMAP van. On the way to the van the shorter person gave me several kicks to the stomach. In the van they started to senselessly beat me in the face, kidneys, stomach, and arms. They beat me quite brutally and the shorter officer repeated all the time: “You don’t know what we did with guys like you in Chechnya…“. In some time they got even more mad started to tear stripes with Belarusian white-red-white flag and symbol off my clothes. After that the shorter guy left the van and I never saw him again. The taller young guy stayed in the van and kept muttering that the opposition is rubbish, etc. In a couple of minutes they brought Vera, a middle-aged woman, to the van. She was detained for putting flowers on the AMAP van. She said she wanted to take the strain off the situation. Different people called me on mobile phone and when I told a journalist I had been beaten, the skin-head grabbed my phone away. In 5 minutes AMAP officers arrived and took me to another van. There was an AMAP officer who kept talking how good the government we have and that the people are absolutely happy about it. In 5 minutes we arrived to Centralny police board. They took me to the hall, where I saw about 15 other people who had been detained, well-known people as Viacorka and Stefanovich among them. Then I had to write an explanation of the events on the Square.
At about 7.50 p.m. they released me. I went out of the police building. It was quite hard to move and breathe. I had only one thought on my mind: Tomorrow I will undergo the medical examination and register the injuries”.