Two elderly opposition activists in Vitsebsk humiliated by police during arrest
The Vitsebsk-based enterprise “Vitsebskenerha” has initiated administrative proceedings against the legendary Miron, who is famous for hanging out white-red-white flags on electric power lines across the city. It happened after the detention of two local opposition activists, Barys Khamaida and Aliaksandr Salauyan, over the possession of a national flag on March 24.
Both were detained in the evening in the village of Ruba near Vitsebsk. The elderly men were detained by riot police. They were forced to lie with their faces to the ground, they were beaten and threatened with shooting... This is what Barys Khamaida says:
“It looked like an attack of some bandits. Indeed, they were in civilian clothes, screaming, threatening, one of them pressed something to the back of my head and threatened to kill me... And in the Chyhunachny District Court, they said that we did not obey their demands, refused to give our names. It looked funny: healthy boys and us – I am 67 years old, Salauyan is a couple of years younger. And he got a kick in the face during the detention... Judge Alena Tsyhankova gave us three days”.
While serving their arrest, the activists heard of a new charge. They were questioned and forced to confess which of them was Miron. The Investigative Committee started finding this out from the first day of our detention, says Barys Khamaida:
“As soon as we were brought to the Chyhunachny police station, a man in uniform with the words “Investigation Committee” appeared. He dismantled piece by piece and took away my cell phone. And he did not leave any document for this, he just took it, and that’s it!”
Human rights activist Pavel Levinau says this is a very dangerous violation:
“There are no documents, and it is unknown who now uses the phone. One can call, for example, to report on a terrorist attack! And then Barys’ trouble will have a larger scale.”
On March 27, Barys Khamaida was taken out of the detention center to witness a search at his apartment, which was authorized by Prosecutor Ramanouski. The document about it is the only one left by employees of the Pershamaiski police department. And it is also a violation, says Pavel Levinau:
“Having returned from prison, Barys Khamaida told me about these events. He said that during the search there were no witnesses and the inspection was carried out simultaneously in both rooms of his apartment and that a cameraman was going around the rooms shooting the interiors, the kitchen, the hallway... I do not ruled out that we will soon see it on TV. What’s worse is that Khamaida did not receive a report of the seized items – a white-red-white flag, a belt and a scarf. This is just what he noticed. Probably there was something else. And now, off the record, the police can say that they took anything from him! And they could leave anything, to “find” it next time. Because there were no witnesses!”
The decision authorizing the search says that it is linked to the administrative case under Article 10.9 of the Administrative Code. This article deals with the destruction of or damage to property in a small amount, and that the case was instituted at the request of the RUE “Vitsebskenerha” over numerous cases of hanging flags on electric wires. Such cases have been reported in Vitsebsk for many years, but the charges were only brought on March 27, when the opposition activists were serving arrest.
After their release, Mr. Salauyan said that the police had searched his private house in the village of Zaitsava, Vitsebsk region. He is yet to find out what has been seized, but his mobile phone is not available now – it is possible that the device is already “under arrest”.