Dmitry Morgunov, 42, is a Minsk-based individual entrepreneur. He was detained during the crackdown on protests on Pritytskogo Street. Dmitry claims he had nothing to do with the protests. He spent a day in the Frunzensky district internal affairs office, and another two at a detention centre on Okrestin Street. Dmitry told journalists about the violence of the riot police towards the detainees.
What shocked him the most was how violent “riot police officer Kristina” was [As TUT.BY learned, the woman’s name is Karina, and she is an employee of the police department]. According to Dmitry, she deliberately pushed men’s legs apart and punched them in the groin with a baton.
Warning: you may find some of the accounts below disturbing.
“On the evening of 10 August, I was heading to Pritytskogo Street on my motorcycle, since my friend’s car broke down. Somewhere in the distance people were shouting ‘Long live Belarus!’, but that wasn’t a mass rally. Then law enforcement officers ran towards me with weapons, I think they were from the Almaz special anti-terrorism unit.
They threatened me with a machine gun and ordered me to get on the ground. They shot through the windshield of a nearby car, I don’t know whether they shot at a person or around them. We were handcuffed and taken to the Frunzensky district internal affairs office. I spent a day there.”
There, all the detainees were kept face down on the gym floor.
“Then two riot police officers decided I was a terrorist. Maybe because I was wearing a motorcycle jacket. They dragged me into the basement. They beat my legs and entire body with their batons for so long. They screamed at me and demanded to tell them who paid me to participate in the protests, and how much I got. They were asking: ‘You terrorist, why did you disable the internet connection for the entire country?
Why are you violating the order in Belarus?’ They were beating me so severely that I was on the brink of losing consciousness. They dragged me back to the gym and said, ‘We will come back for more.’ But I was saved by one of the more humane riot policemen: he pulled me to another corner of the gym. I was barely alive.”
For Dmitry, the most shocking of it all were the actions of a female officer, whom the others addressed by the name Karina.
“She was walking around us, forcing men’s legs apart. And she was beating us with a baton sadistically aiming at the groin. She would target the testicles and say, ‘You son of a b***!’ She punched one of the detainees, who was about 50 years old, in his genitals while standing on his legs. He showed me his injuries later. His entire groin area was black and blue. Karina seemed to be about 30 years old, with short, blond hair. She was wearing a uniform and had a protective mask on her face.”
Dmitry says Karina’s cruelty is well remembered by many men who were held with him in the gym at the Frunzensky district internal affairs office. Then Dmitry was brought to a tiny isolation compartment along with seven others.
“We were given only one bottle of water for the eight of us. Keeping us there without any water was real fascism!”
Warning: the PICTURE shows the beatings inflicted on Dmitry Morgunov at the Frunzensky district internal affairs office.
Next, Dmitry was transferred to the detention centre on Okrestin Street.
“They made us kneel with our hands behind their backs and heads on the ground for what felt like five hours. There were a lot of badly beaten people, they were just falling and stayed on the ground. There were ambulance teams who were determined to take people who sustained fractures and other serious injuries to hospital. But then, the doctor of the detention centre showed up to say that there was no need to do so, and he would treat everyone himself.”
Dmitry says that the detention center building was full, so about a hundred people were kept in a sort of a hangar outside.
“There was nothing but the sky above and the cement floor. We all were freezing at night especially those who had no shirts on, or whose clothes were torn. Some people were barefoot. We had to take turns to sleep. There was space for 20 people to have a bit of rest by squatting, while other 80 people had to stand.
I also noticed that about ¼ of the detainees in the hangar, that’s at least 25 people, mostly young guys, had holes cut out at the back of their pants. I couldn’t figure this out at first. But the guys told me that the riot police cut their pants and threatened to shove grenades into their anuses.”
Dmitry says that none of the people he had the chance to talk to in the hangar took part in the mass street protests.
“They weren’t the ones fighting with the riot police, they were just passers-by. One guy was grabbed near a store, another one while jogging, someone was pulled out of their car…”
The man confirms that shouts and groans were heard at night at the detention centre on Okrestin Street.
“It sounded like people were being killed there. They were yelling at the top of their lungs. One of the detainees apparently lost his mind from the pain and started shouting: ‘Glory to Lukashenko! I’ll sign whatever you want, just let me go home.’”
On the evening of 13 August, the attitude of riot police officers changed dramatically.
“Later on I found out that was because of all the industrial actions. And for the first time in a day and a half they gave us five liters of water and eight loaves of black bread, that was for 100 people. We asked for more water, and they brought us more. They did a complete 180, the detention centre staff started behaving in a different, more humane way.”
In the early hours of 14 Augus, they began releasing the detainees from the detention centre on Okrestin Street.
“Hundreds of ordinary people and volunteers were waiting for us outside. They gave us food, doctors did checkups, lawyers offered their help. They helped me to get home for free. I didn’t expect that the support would be so strong. It was very comforting. I’m grateful to all those people who didn’t remain indifferent.”
Dmitry intends to do a medical checkup to log the bodily injuries incurred as a result of battery. He also hopes to find his motorcycle.
Translated by Veranika Papkouskaya, edited by Kate Bolokhovietskaya on a voluntary basis.