People injured during peaceful post-election protests were brought to Minsk military hospital, which also treats gunshot wounds. There are many rumours about that reserved facility. Our interviewee is a doctor familiar with the situation who wished to stay anonymous.
Our hospital provides gunshot wound care. In accordance with a protocol, all the people with gunshot wounds should be brought here. However, taking into account the number [of such wounds after the protests; wounds from rubber bullets are considered gunshots], then, of course, not all the injured were brought to us but most of them.
I saw people admitted to hospital on 9-10 August with my own eyes. There were some 60 people, mainly patients with gunshot wounds. There were both rubber and plastic bullets, some fragments of flash grenades. About 30 injured were brought in on the first day [another source told TUT.BY that there were 29 injured on 9 August] and about 30 the next day.
I would like to stress the following: there were about 60 people with minor inuries. I am not really sure but they could be Russians, Ukrainians or somebody else. But what I can say for sure is that the worst cases were the citizens of Belarus. They were delivered to us without any weapons, knives or steel bars. Ordinary looking people.
During the first days not we couldn’t indentify all the patients since some of them needed to be put on a ventilator. Now all of them are identified. I managed to talk to some of the patients. A man, about 60 years old, arrived with a gunshot wound in the abdominal cavity.
This man was brought with a damaged intestine which was lying on the frontal abdominal wall – can you imagine that? I asked the man about the circumstance of the incident because he was still conscious. The man replied that he was in the crowd, and I underline, in the crowd.
The crowd scattered as the riot policemen appeared. “Because of my age, I couldn’t run, so I raised my hands up. Then a policeman shot at me point-blank even though I was totally unarmed.” Please note that. Everything has to be legally assessed.
The youngest patient was 16 years old. Something was thrown at his feet, he doesn’t know what it was and we cannot identify it either. So, the thrown object blew up somewhere at his hip. Only rags are left of his hip. That guy is a hard case, there’s a possibility he will be disabled.
A citizen of the Netherlands was admitted to hospital too. She was brought in with a gunshot wound of the shin and hip. It was their conscious choice to be at the protests. Noone denies that. But they are normal peaceful people. Not some security forces. Not drug addicts. Nothing close to what you are told.
Their average age is 25-30 years old, they are not some bratty teens but pretty mature and stable people. There are some people over 40 and 60. Yes, there were some unemployed and some intoxicated too but also sober and working… It is like a cross-section of the society.
I haven’t seen the patients from Okrestin street [where a temporary detention centre is located] on 9-10 August. I should say that we only treat gunshot wounds, people with injuries like broken bones, concussions are directed to civil medics. We treated quite a lot of penetrating wounds in the abdominal and chest cavities – all hard cases.
What I am trying to say is that I am not an expert but I do know the instructions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They say that in case of danger or life-threatening circumstances their employee can use non-lethal weapons but the way it does not cause death or disability. This means targeting lower and upper limbs.
On the other hand, we admitted patients with wounds of chest and abdominal cavities. People with such trauma can die even though the weapon is ‘non-lethal’. The majority of the traumas were minor: injuries of limbs’ soft tissue. A rubber ball, a bullet which flew into the soft tissue.
In other words, we took it out, disinfected and prescribed ambulatory treatment. However, for a person, who has never seen, not to mention experienced such things, this will be a psychological shock. Time with a psychologist is guaranteed.
We are a peaceful country, Belarus is not part of any military conflicts.”
Previously, we used to be apolitical. We have a duty to provide medical care for everybody. But what I have seen is an atrocity. As far as I know, the army didn’t and isn’t going to take part in the protest crackdowns. The army didn’t stain its reputation.
Yes, I don’t know the military hospital doctors who would join the peaceful protests of medics. But please don’t get me wrong, part of my colleagues are military personnel. I have never seen in any country the military taking to the streets to wave flowers. That’s an army, a closed facility and that’s okay.
I told you some raw facts but I assume that the management won’t be happy about it, although I don’t see any reason for that. In power structures the leaking of information is discouraged. But in this case, I believe that the public has to know. […]
In this particular case we are talking about the civilians. The people should understand that taking part in a peaceful rally might end up, roughly speaking, with a disability. This is unprecedented for our country, I can’t think of any other word for it.
Translated by Diana Olesjuk