"You have thrown Molotovs!" they said and hit us with a Taser." 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.
23-year-old Ihar Kviatko was detained on August 11 in a taxi. The Minsk resident told Viasna about what happened next. When interviewed, Ihar was unable to sit because of his injuries.
"On 11 August at about 10.30 pm we got into a traffic jam in Serabranka neighborhood. The riot policemen appeared and just pulled us out of the taxi. They put us down facing the ground, started kicking us on our legs and back, and searched the car. They threatened us: ‘You have thrown a Molotov cocktail!’ – and hit us with a Taser.
After that, I was taken to a police van with conscripts. They started to literally kill us, if you will. It was the conscripts who did it.
About 40 people were brought into the police van. Among them was a minor. He was beaten even harder than me. They probably thought that he had thrown a stone at the riot police.
They used gas. They sprayed it so that we could breathe, while they had gas masks on. They just were having fun.
We spent about an hour in the police van and then were taken to the Leninsky police department. When we got out of the van, we were ‘welcomed’ by a column of riot police. We had to run between the lines and they beat us on the way. If you fall, you get beaten even harder.
After that, we were kneeled on the ground outside and waited for two hours for the reports to be filed.
They had us videotaped, we were asked for names and home address. They made an inventory of belongings and asked us to show the phone. If the phone was turned off, we were ordered to turn it on, open the gallery, and let them look at photos and videos.
Then we were taken to the garage, where we stood head against the wall for three hours.
At about 3 am the riot police left and an ordinary police officer appeared. He was without a mask (all riot police had masks) and treated us well: he allowed us to sit down and sleep and took us to the toilet.
But at midday, the riot police returned and began to humiliate us. They would say: 'You were the one throwing the Molotov cocktail! You!'
Around 4 pm on August 11, they loaded us in police vans again. When we were brought to the detention center in Akrescin Street, there was also a similar corridor of riot police through which we had to run – and they beat very hard.
120 of us were placed in a 6 square meter cell. We stood for 24 hours. Toilet? We had three plastic bottles. We used them for the toilet and put them in the corner.
At about 3 am we were finally given a meal: a bucket of patty-cakes and some bread. We had to divide a patty-cake by half. For the first time, they brought water: 12 liters for 120 people. They took groups of 6-8 people from our cell to the toilet. We took the bottles with us and brought back some tap water.
At 5 am they called my last name. I and a dozen more people were taken out of the building. There were three tables. I was brought to a table – there were two reports on it. They just showed me: 'Sign here and here.' If you start reading, they immediately give you a cuff. One guy said that he did not agree with the report and was taken behind the fence. I heard screams. When they brought him back, he signed everything.
After that, we were asked: 'Will you go to the rally this weekend?' This is such moral pressure. You say no. And if you don't say anything, you can get hit.
Then: 'Run, march! Along the fence without touching the grass,' that was the order. Next to the fence, there was a minibus. Riot police came out, put us on the ground, and beat us for a minute or so.
We were released with a warning: 'If you get caught again, you will be beaten even harder.' And one of the officers said: 'If you end up in the detention center in Žodzina, you will be beaten much harder than here, much harder than the convicts.'
When I came out of the gate, a volunteer offered me a ride. I am very grateful to the people who helped us. Otherwise, I would walk for an hour and a half with my legs injured like this.”
More stories of people who survived police violence and torture:
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.