Illia Dabratvor: “Two judges refused to try me, but Judge Motyl agreed, as usual”
The activist of the public association "Alternative" Illia Dabratvor who was released from the detention center in Akrestsin Street on August 12, told the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" about his "mysterious" detention, conviction, and why this arrest term in the detention center was the most difficult one for him.
“Illia, all of us were very surprised to find about your detention in the House of Justice on July 29. How did it happen that no one witnessed the detention?
“I came to the House of Justice together with the journalist of Radio “Liberty” Aleh Hruzdzilovich. There are two gates at the entrance, he went to one of them, I went to the other one. The guards asked for his journalist certificate and started talking with him. At the same time they took my passport and told me to come with them for personal examination. I agreed. I was told that the room for personal examination was further. Eventually, I was led to the internal yard and immediately put in a car. Before this, I was searched and my mobile telephone was taken away. Only later did the guards allow me to phone my wife, the riot policemen who detained me didn't let me do it. While leading me to the internal yard they also asked me about my T-shirt. There was the inscription “Freedom for political prisoners”. I didn't have any other one with me. They drove me to the Maskouski District Court.
“Were you tried quickly?”
“First, we were sitting near an office – the first judge refused to judge me, then they led me to another judge, who refused as well. Only Judge Tatsiana Motyl, [notorious for her cynical attitude to civil society activists at trials - ed.], agreed. First of all, she immediately sent back the violation report, drawn by the police, as it was clear that they had made changes in it (and in my copy it can be seen as well) [shows the copy of the report -ed.]. I wrote in the report that I did not agree with the changes, and demanded a lawyer. But the lawyer, which usually protects me, was busy, and I refused to be served by their lawyer.
Then Judge Motyl said that we could listen to the witnesses. I replied that did not want to listen to false testimonies and she could issue the verdict immediately. She agreed to it. I showed her my passport and stated that I had to take care of five children, and she must put it in the case. The judge gave me two papers to sign, and in about an hour sentenced me to 14 days of arrest [seven under Article 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, “disorderly conduct”, and 7 days more under Article 23.4 "disobedience to official" - ed.]. Honestly, I was hoping that she would give me at least ten days of arrest, but she didn't do it. In about an hour I was taken to the detention center. Meanwhile, other people said they had to wait for some two-three days at the district police department as the police say there is no petrol. They collect as many detainees as they can to take them to the detention center in one car. In my case, they found the petrol immediately.”
“You had to serve arrest in abnormally hot days. What were the conditions in the detention center?”
“The conditions there are very difficult, because there was no cold water, the panes in the doors weren't opened. Only small windows were opened. Usually, there are six people in a cell, and have no air in such a heat. The walking yard is out of order, therefore we had no walks. So you have stay in the cell all the time... It was very difficult to sit there, and we could not sleep at night. There was a non-smoker among us, and it was totally intolerable for him.
Employees of the detention center ignore all our complaints. For instance, when the bed closes were changed for me, my neighbors kept writing complaints to Sakalouski [I. Sakalouski, acting head of the detention center of police department of Minsk City Executive Committee – ed.] for four days to have the bed clothes changed. There was a guy whose bed clothes weren't changed even once during the 15 days of arrest. Then all peoples in the cell started having stomach problems. I applied for medical assistance, and received an answer only in a day. One of my cell-mates had had an epileptic seizure, but the prison staff only gave us instructions how to keep him, without entering the cell. Then he had another seizure, we again kept him the best we could, until they called an ambulance and it took him away.
In general, the cells are very overcrowded – the repairs are going on, and there aren't enough places. If somebody is released in the evening, the new ones are put in the cell in the daytime, and all have to wait in such conditions. I even thought about addressing Sakalouski and advise the staff of the detention center not to accept that many people if there are no places for them. It seems to be the hardest term of all I had in the detention center.”
“Did you feel any special attitude to yourself as a political arrestee?”
“I noticed one thing: the police have started implementing the unlawful methods of work related to “political” cases in usual ones. I saw some violation reports – they also put lies in them. This is understandable. After all, if the police are allowed to lie with impunity in the violation reports on political cases, then, of course, they start expanding this practice. Sure, administrative articles 17.1 and 23.4 can be used against anyone. What is interesting is the formulation “in the state of intoxication”, used in such reports. The violation reports lack medical conclusions about it, it is just written by the police. Of course, the words of the detainees that they were sober during the detention must be assessed with certain skepticism. Nevertheless, if everything is written in details in my reports, in their reports it is not even mentioned how they violated the law and where they were detained. All this is considered by courts, and the courts sentence people to arrest terms on the basis of such reports.”
“In your opinion, what was the reason for your detention?”
“On the day of my release, I learned that activist of "Alternative" about the detention of Aleh Keral, who brought me a food parcel. Aleh Korban, who came to meet me, was detained as well. Being a coordinator of “Alternative”, I believe that the authorities is afraid of active youth organizations and are trying to destroy our one.