Andrei Haidukou describes detention conditions in Polatsk and Navapolatsk

2014 2014-12-17T14:05:51+0300 2014-12-17T14:05:51+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Andrei Haidukou. Photo: Radio Liberty.

Andrei Haidukou. Photo: Radio Liberty.

Andrei Haidukou, member of the organizing committee of the party Belarusian Christian Democracy, was detained for handing out leaflets on November 21 in Navapolatsk and on November 24 in Polatsk. On November 25, he was sentenced to 10 days in jail, and on December 5 – to another five days. The activist told human rights defenders new details of these arrests and the trials, as well as about the conditions in the detention center of Navapolatsk.

During the trial, which took place on November 25, Judge Uladzimir Biasetski of the Polatsk City Court found former political prisoner guilty of violating Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code and sentenced him to 10 days of arrest for “holding an unauthorized picket with the distribution of leaflets”. On the same day, he was taken to Navapolatsk detention center.

In the detention center, I had tonsillitis. I had a bad cough and a fever. This is due to the fact that in the cell where I was kept, it was cold, the ventilation was poor and therefore there were drafts. The food was not always warm, and I asked a few times to give me warm food because of my illness. Sometimes it worked.

Immediately after the completion of my administrative arrest, I was again taken to the court, this time in Navapolatsk. In court, I saw that the decision which charged me with distributing media products had been reclassified under Article 23.43 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, as I was allegedly involved in an illegal event. The judge did not even pay any attention to the fact that the temperature rose to 38 degrees, and ordered the arrest me for five days. Again, I was in the detention center, but very sick. I told them at once to register that I was sick when I arrived. And they recorded this in the register: fever, runny nose, cough. But they did not allow to put off serving a sentence, since there was no sick leave. I said then: “I fell ill here”. It did not matter. But later they called an ambulance to give me an injection.

I was sent to the same cell, where I had served my previous arrest. My neighbor smoked a lot, and it caused me pain, I gasped as ventilation was a small hole about 10 cm wide. After I wrote a complaint to the prison administration, he was transferred to another cell.

The bedding was fine, but from the blanket stank, and in general, the walls were dirty, instead of the toilet there was a hole in the floor and a small faucet with cold water. The cell was very poorly lit, because the window was made of thick glass blocks, so it was impossible to read. Otherwise, you could ruin your eyesight.”

Andrei Haidukou also spoke in detail about the food given to arrested persons in Navapolatsk detention center. All they receive in the morning is tea with porridge and the same in the evening, only with a piece of herring or a few sprats. For lunch, they give barely warm and sometimes tasteless soup, porridge and cutlets.

All the prisoners are allowed to receive from their relatives are only personal hygiene items, while food parcels are not allowed. Walks do not last more than half an hour.

At the end of the conversation, Andrei Haidukou summed up his observations and compared detention conditions with those in the Vitsebsk pre-trial prison.

Andrei Haidukou is a former political prisoner. On November 8, 2012 the KGB arrested him and charged the activist under Part 1, Art. 356 of the Criminal Code (high treason in the form of intelligence activities). Andrei Haidukou’s case was considered in a closed trial. During the trial, the charges were changed. On July 1, 2013 the Vitsebsk Regional Court convicted the activist on criminal charges of “attempting to establish cooperation with the special services, security agencies or authorities of a foreign state”. He was released on May 8, 2014.

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