"When they looked at my ID, the beating became softer." Survivor stories
The Human Rights Center "Viasna” and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) launched a campaign to document cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of protesters on August 9-13. Some testimonies of people who survived torture and violence will be published on our website as evidence of crimes committed by security forces.
Minsk resident Piotr Kiryk was detained at about midnight on August 12 when he was getting off a bus with a friend (between Malinaŭka and Piatroŭščyna metro stations). The boy was 16 years old (17 at the moment), but this did not stop the riot police from using force against him.
"Two masked plain-clothed men approached us," says Piotr Kiryk. "They told us to come up. I took a step in their direction, and they grabbed me by the hand. Scared, I pulled out my hand and ran a hundred meters away. But one of them said: 'Stop, otherwise, I'm going to shoot!’ I stopped. He ran up, twisted my arms behind my back and led me in the direction of a blue minivan parked in the yard. I was kneeled, they hit me a few times with a baton and threw me on the ground. I was sitting on the ground, I was hit several times with a baton on many parts of my body: the back, legs, and hips. Then I was put face to the side of the minivan and searched. They took out a cell phone and demanded the screen lock password. I said that I had forgotten it. After that, they hit me with the baton on the arm.”
Piotr was asked for the password several times. After each refusal to give it, the boy was beaten with a baton.
Then Piotr was grabbed by his hair and put into the van on his knees. His head was pressed to the glass, and his hands were tied with plastic ties behind his back. The officers insulted him all the time:
"They called us animals, cattle, Maidan-fanatics... They flashed a torch into my face and told that we were drug addicts and would get a long sentence. He said that our pupils were wide and then narrow, it meant we were drug addicts. In the van, they beat me on buttocks, legs, and back with a baton.
Piotr remembers that the officers were talking to each other: "Turn off your flashlight, close the curtains, or we will be seen from [the neighboring] house."
The guy immediately told the police that he was 16 years old, but they answered: "You shouldn't walk around so late at this age.” Finally, in the van, he was asked for an ID.
"When they looked at my ID, the beating became softer – only on my buttocks and legs. Then – only on the buttocks, while the rest were beaten all over the body, as they were adults.”
From permanent seating on the minivan floor, Piotr had cramps on both legs. He asked the police officers if he could change the position. That was refused: "You move – and we will beat you up."
After a while, the police van arrived and all detainees were ordered to stand up.
"I couldn't stand up, my legs were swollen," Piotr continues his story. "But I was hit with a baton, they told me to get up faster. I was handed over to a strong riot policeman in black uniform. He led me to the police van. They hit me five times precisely on an inner part of the leg."
Piotr and other detainees were taken to the Maskouski district police department.
"They talked to each other and agreed to bring us to the most aggressive people. They took us to the 4th floor, to the assembly hall. There were some law-enforcement officers. As far as I understand, it was the police, riot policemen. They talked to each other, joked, and beat those lying on the ground with batons. I was also ordered to lie on the floor with my legs crossed. We lay like this for forty minutes."
After that Piotr was taken to another room. Inside were presumably people from the police department staff. They asked Piotr who he was, where his parents worked; the answers were filmed.
Piotr only learned that he was in the Maskouski police department when he was handed over to his parents.
Piotr's mother Marharyta Kiryk said that she had received a call from an unknown woman who told her where she should pick up her son. Having arrived at the Maskouski police department, Marharyta waited for about two and a half hours until some officer came out. Margarita could not identify him because it was very dark.
"He said that Piotr looked like an adult. He promised that next time (if he is detained) he would get the works," Marharyta recalls.
Piotr left the police department at about 3.30 on August 13.
More stories of people who survived police violence and torture:
Some 10 minutes later another van arrived and they threw me there, face against the wall and hands behind my back. There were about 10 people in the cage, including a girl – she was detained because she had bandages and cotton wool in her bag. She was psychologically pressured and cursed.
18-year-old Illia was detained on August 11 near "Pushkinskaya" metro station when he was driving to his native city. He told "Viasna" how inhumanely he was treated and beaten in the police department and in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
Stas and his friend were walking along Arlouskaya Street when they were overtaken by two vans with tinted windows. A law enforcement officer wearing a green uniform came out. The couple asked him how dangerous it was to go forward.
28-year-old Minsk resident Uladzislau Salavei, a kindergarten teacher assistant, was detained on August 9 and placed in the detention center in Akrescin Street. There, he was sentenced to 14 days of arrest and then transferred to a compulsory rehabilitation center near Sluck to serve his time.
Maryia Ambrosava from Minsk told Viasna how she and her husband Yury went to a police station on August 10 to report their son missing, but found themselves in a police van and spent four days in the detention center in Akrescin Street. All these days, they were not aware that their son had been released, so when people were shouting from beatings, Maryia felt it was her son who was screaming.
Aliaksei Prakharenka works as a taxi driver in Minsk. On August 11, he was driving a client when he was stopped and then detained by road policemen. During the detention, they broke Aliaksei's arm. That was the reason why he spent only half an hour in the detention center in Akrescin Street. Nevertheless, in this short time, he had to see a lot.
Siarhei Herasimovich was detained on 10 August at 9 p.m. near the Yubileynaya Hotel in Minsk. He was walking with his journalist colleagues when the cars on the avenue started beeping. Siarhei raised his hand in a Victory sign. Suddenly, the riot police shouted: "Come here!" The journalist walked up and was brutally thrown into the police van where the policemen started beating him with batons.
18-year-old Uladzimir Pahartsau says that he was not beaten so hard compared to other detainees, because he was chosen to give an interview to a state TV channel about the “coordinators of the protests.”
23-year-old Yury Panamarou was detained in the evening of August 11 on his way to a street food market in central Minsk. He told Viasna about the cruelty of his unjustified detention and the conditions under which he was kept for two days in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
On August 11, Dzianis Selivankin was approached by two police officers at the intersection of Pieramožcaŭ Avenue and Mieĺnikajte Street. They asked for his ID. Dzianis replied that he had no passport with him. Then the young man was forced to unlock his smartphone. What they saw in Dzianis’s Telegram enraged them.
Vasil Hushcha (48) was detained in the evening of August 9 near the Maskva cinema next to Niamiha street. He was freed in the morning of August 14. Vasil told “Viasna” about the tortures in the detention center on the Akrescin Street, his transfer to a prison in Žodzina (60 km from Minsk) and the conditions there.
Hleb was detained on August 11 near the shopping center “Skala”. He says that the riot policemen detained him when he simply walked down the street with headphones on his head. He spend the next three days in the police station of Maskouski district, then in the detention center on Akrescin Street and finally in a correctional facility in Sluck.
I turned up by chance, they put me in a bus or in a police van, I don't remember which. They took my phone away at once, broke it, asked for the password, I do not understand on what grounds. Then they took me to the Maskoŭski police department. They didn't beat me much in the police van, but started beating in the police department.
A Minsk resident was detained on August 9 and left the Center for the Confinement of Offenders on the morning of August 12. All this time he, like the other detainees, was deprived of food. Forty people were held in a six-men cell, and riot police insulted and beat people at night. The guy, who chose to remain anonymous, agreed to tell Viasna what he had to go through.