Detention conditions improved in jails in Minsk and Smaliavičy after complaint from activist
In 2015, Leanid Kulakou, activist of the European Belarus opposition movement, has served two short jail terms in the temporary detention facilities in Smaliavičy and Minsk. The penalties were imposed on the activist or taking part in two protests, including in solidarity with political prisoner Yury Rubtsou.
According to Leanid Kulakou, detention conditions in Smaliavičy were awful:
“The conditions were terrible, no other word. There was no daylight, you could only say it the day had come through a gap at the top of the window, it was impossible to sleep at night, because the iron beds were covered with iron plates and you could not lie there for more than 10 minutes. It was cold as if in winter, and the smell was terrible, because I wasn’t taken out to the toilet and I had to ease myself in a bucket. Because of the smell it was impossible to take meals, so I was sick in the first days.”
Conditions in the Minsk-based detention center were not much better. While serving the arrest, for three days the activist had to share the cell with a HIV-positive man.
Leanid Kulakou complained about the conditions of detention. On July 3, the activist was interviewed by an employee of the Prosecutor's Office. Later, he was invited to the Ministry of the Interior for conversation and consultation. A few days ago, Leanid Kulakou finally received an official response, which said that a probe had been carried out to investigate “violations of conditions of detention, poor sanitary conditions, as well as logistical support in the temporary detention facilities of Minsk and Smaliavičy”.
“The audit found that some deficiencies in the Smaliavičy detention facility were due to objective reasons and were not the result of poor performance by the staff. The jail is regularly disinfested, as evidenced by certificates and entries in registers. Also, the conditions of detention of administrative arrestees and detainees are constantly being studied by employees of the Republican Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology of the Ministry of Interior. In 2015, the detention center was renovated. The cells will soon be equipped with tables and benches, as well as tables for storing toiletries. Simultaneously, the detention center in Minsk is also being renovated,” says the official letter.