Riot in penal colony in Ivatsevichy
Inmates cut their arms and stomachs and went on hunger strike protesting against abuse of power by prison authorities.
Narodnaya Volya newspaper received a letter from inmates of penal colony No. 22, colloquially called “Volchy Nory” (Wolves' Holes).
They are writing about a serious incident. On June 6, six men from cell No. 2 of the disciplinary unit found their clothes wet after a wakeup command at 5 am. The inmates asked to move them to other cells during repair works, but demand was ignored. The prison authorities sent repairmen to fix the water pipes, but the roof also needed to be repaired.
The inmates were waiting in the corridor while the repairmen were working and prison guards were checking cells. Controllers came to them and asked who refused to enter the cell. “They heard all of them refused, because the cell was wet and unsuitable for living. They were taken to the yard. At 1 pm, an prison chief assistant on duty appeared, pointed at two prisoners and ordered them to go. In the corridor, they saw controllers, who asked them to stop. Another inmate was then called. The three were taken to cell No. 3 and the remaining three were pushed into their previous cell No. 2. Prison guards began to kick them and beat with their fists and batons. Other inmates heard this and began to knock at doors asking to stop beating. But prison guards didn't stop. One of the guards began to run up and down the corridor shouting 'Who else wants this? Remember article 411! [a criminal article for dissidence to a prison guard which is punished with a prison term]. When the controllers moved to the search room, other inmates asked how severely they had been beaten. They boiled over when they heard the beating was brutal: 'If the administration wants blood, it will be blood.' They broke a light bulb and cut their arms and an inmate from cell No. 6 cut his stomach.”
Neither the Interior Ministry's press service, nor human rights activists and the Corrections Department spread information about a riot attempt. As it follows from the letter, a prison doctor sent two prisoners to the medical unit, the others received medical aid in cells. When inmates learned the man who cut his stomach was taken to hospital only the next day, they went on hunger strike demanding a visit of a representative of a prosecutor's office.
“We hope this letter can change something. We are human beings. The situation, which we described in our letter, cannot be a ground to beat and mutilate us. No one can guarantee we will return home healthy,” inmates wrote to the newspaper.
Syarhei Pratsenka, the first deputy head of the Corrections Department, says he knows about the incident. He interprets the situation as follows:
“There are regime abusers in the detention facility. Do you think they are innocent people? If actions by prison guards had been illegal, they would have been punished long ago.
They refused to obey legal demands of the prison administration. They cannot choose cells they like or not. It is the prison administration who chooses cells for them. In this situation actions by the prison administration were well-timed and adequate to actions by the inmates. The law allows them to use force and special weapons.”