Ruslan Bahdanouski: “Head of the detention center was threatening to rape me with a baton”
37-year-old taxi driver Ruslan Bahdanouski left Belarus after serving a 30-day imprisonment for “picketing by the means of music” in front of the Akrestsina detention center, and told “Viasna” about the unbearable detention conditions and torture.
Ruslan Bahdanouski before his detention
On October 11, Ruslan Bahdanouski together with his taxi client Maksim Kanavalau to whom he was giving a lift at the time, came to the Akrestsina detention center and, having parked in front of its entrance and opened car windows, turned on the protest song “Mury” (“The Walls”) loudly. After several minutes, the Head of the detention center Ihar Keniukh came out and ran to the car filming Ruslan and Maksim. Ruslan drove away, but several hours later was detained by six road police officers. His passenger Maksim Kanavalau was also arrested. Both of them were charged with “unsanctioned picketing” and sentenced by the judge Siarhei Katser to 15 days of imprisonment.
Ruslan told that the head of the Akrestsina detention center Ihar Keniukh made his term behind bars unbearable: he was threatening that he would rape him with his baton and then put Ruslan in one cell with other prisoners who would rape him, he also promised to leave Ruslan to rot in prison.
On October 26, when the term of their arrest ended, Ruslan and Maksim were driven by police officers to a police station where new arrest records were completed under Art. 19.1 of Administrative Code (“petty hooliganism”). On the next day, judge Tatsiana Motyl sentenced Maksim who pleaded guilty to 14 days of imprisonment and Ruslan who pleaded not guilty to 15 days of imprisonment.
Ruslan spent all 30 days of his arrest in the same isolation ward, which was packed with four to eight people on different days. They had to sleep on the concrete floor close to each other not to freeze. Ruslan and his inmates were deprived of mattresses, showering, walks and warm clothes. The light in the cell was on 24/7, all prisoners were woken three times every night (at 12, 2 and 4 am). When Ruslan got sick on the third day of his detention, he was deprived of medical care and wasn’t let to lie down. During his detention period, Ruslan’s vision had deteriorated. Also, his car hasn’t yet been returned to Ruslan by the police officers, since it is allegedly under some examination.
On December 1, the Ruslan left Belarus, now he is safe.