The most high-profile cases of torture in Belarus in 2021
In 2020, after the presidential election, the world was shocked by unprecedented violence and terror in Belarus. Unfortunately, the security forces continue to use physical force against the political prisoners. During this year's trials, the society learned about the horrific details of the beating and torture of political prisoners Mikola Dziadok, Stsiapan Latypau, the anarchists Dzmitry Dubouski, Ihar Alinevich, Siarhei Ramanau and Dzmitry Rezanovich. Beatings by security officers were also reported by the mother of five Volha Zalatar, Editor-in-chief of Nasha Niva newspaper Yahor Martsinovich, 21-year-old Russian Yegor Dudnikov and a student Artsiom Bayarski.
The other day, during a meeting with his sister Yuliya, political prisoner Dzmitry Dubouski told her about the torture against anarchists after their detention last autumn. Dzmitry himself was being beaten and strangled with a plastic bag on his head, he repeatedly was losing his consciousness during the torture. After that, Dzmitry could not move for several days, as his ribs were damaged. Ihar Alinevich had his skin cut off on his heels. Siarhei Ramanau also revealed some details of the anarchists’ torture during his trial in Homieĺ. He said that the interrogation was conducted by border guards. They started beating Siarhei at the border checkpoint, then let tear gas into the room where he’d been placed. When a border guard left the room unable to stand the tear gas effect, Siarhei cut his veins with a folding knife. After that, the anarchists were transferred to the detention center in hancuffs with weights, due to which their hands did not heal for a long time. On December 22, judge Viachaslau Tuleyka sentenced Ihar Alinevich and Siarhei Ramanau to 20 years in prison, Dzmitry Dubouski to 18 years in prison, and Dzmitry Rezanovich to 19 years in prison.
Volha Zalatar, a mother of five minor children, was detained on March 18. She stated in court that she had been beaten by the police officers after her detention. Volha’s lawyer Andrei Machalau found bruises on the woman's arms, neck, and buttocks. Volha filed a criminal case against a police officer Tveratsinau for abuse of power in relation to the use of physical force. But the initiation of a criminal case was denied on the grounds of lack of corpus delicti in his actions.The Investigative Committee claimed that “Zalatar's statements about her injuries are not true, as she had them before her detention.” Later, Andrei Machalau’s licence to work as a lawyer was revoked by the authorities due to the fact that he made the information about Volha’s beating public. On December 3, judge Anastasiya Papko sentenced Volha Zalatar tofour years in prison.
A 20-year-old second-year student, a former scholarship holder of the President special fund for talented youth Artsiom Bayarski was detained in a criminal for allegedly administering a telegram channel. After his detention, Artsiom was beaten with truncheons on his back and buttocks to record a “repentance” video for the state propaganda. Artsiom Bayarski and his lawyer filed a request to initiate a criminal case on the facts of the beating. Despite the fact that the examination revealed numerous bruises on Bayarski’s body, the Investigative Committee refused to initiate a criminal case against the GUBAZIK police officer Valer Vysotski. On December 9, 2021, Judge Alena Shylko sentenced Artsiom to five years in a high security prison.
The Editor-in-chief of Nasha Niva newspaper Yahor Martsinovich was detained on July 8, 2021. He was beaten during the search in his house and during detention: police officers put a boxing helmet on his head and were hitting him on the head. An ambulance was called to the Investigative Committee later, as Yahor felt bad. He is still being held in the pre-trial detention center under alleged charges that Nasha Niva was paying for utilities at the rate defined for individuals, instead of paying at the rate defined for legal entities.
Yegor Dudnikov, a 21-year-old Russian citizen, was detained on May 4, 2021 for voicing videos for an “extremist” telegram channel. During his detention, Yegor was severely beaten by police officers. Having put a bag on his head and put in a car, they threatened him that they would “bury him”, as well as that would get to his girlfriend and harm her. On December 27, judge Siarhei Khrypach sentenced Yegor to 11 years in a high security prison.
Over the past year and a half, no charges have been filed against the police officers and “judges” have totally ignored detainees’ statements on torture during the trials. Detainees who had been beaten and tortured were given long prison terms.