TUT.BY journalists talked to a 30-year-old programmer Ales [name has been changed – BelarusFeed note] in the emergency care hospital in Minsk soon after the violent dispersal of post-election protests on 9-12 August. The injuried were taken there from police departments and detention facilities on Okrestin Street.
At the time he could not and did not want to talk about what happened to him after the arrest. But after filing a complaint with the Investigative Committee, leaving abroad and publishing his testimony in a Human Rights Watch report, he agreed to talk about his plans to seek justice.
He pushed the stick into my anus
Ales was arrested near Minsk Hero City Stele on the evening of 11 August. Riot police were detaining random bystanders there, and that’s how he ended up in a paddy wagon. Later Ales shared his horrifying story with the activists of Human Rights Watch. Below is an excerpt of it:
[Riot police] demanded that I unlock my phone. I refused. They called a senior officer. He threatened that unless I cooperate, he’d stick his truncheon up my [ass]. He then cut my shorts and my underwear on the back, crosswise, and called out to his officers asking whether anyone had a condom. I was on the floor, face down, but I could see him pull the condom on the truncheon – and then he just pushed the stick into my anus…. Then, he pulled it out and demanded the password again. He kicked and punched me on my ribs, on my face, on my teeth – my two front teeth cracked a bit,” the man recalled the events of that evening.
There were other detainees in the paddy wagon who saw and heard what was happening to Ales. Ales is convinced that it will not be a problem to find witnesses if needed. The paddy wagon brought the detainees to the Zavodskoy District Department of Internal Affairs. There, either lying on the grass or kneeling at the wall with his hands tied behind his back, Ales spent all night and all the next day.
The cut clothes were constantly falling off, and he was allowed to take a jacket that one of the detainees offered him. After that, Ales and the others were sent to a detention facility on Okrestsin Street. There, the guards asked who needed medical help. Soon the man was taken by an ambulance to the emergency hospital.
Evil and cruelty must be punished
At the hospital, Ales was diagnosed with a mild closed craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, left paraorbital hematoma, left chest contusion, subcutaneous hematoma of the perineum, subcutaneous hematoma in the right thigh, intramucosal hemorrhages of the rectum.
The authenticity of the epicrisis was confirmed to TUT.BY by Abdul Al Audi, Ales’s attending physician from the trauma department No. 1 of the emergency hospital. In the hospital, a psychologist also worked with Ales – a standard practice for victims of sexual violence. As soon as Ales was discharged, he went to see a lawyer and submited a complaint with the Investigative Committee of the Central District of Minsk.
“I submitted the application on 20 August. Then I was sent for a forensic examination. About a week later, the investigator called me in for an additional questioning, to clarify the details. After that, no one contacted me, but yesterday, on 17 September, the representatives of the Central Office of the Investigative Committee called my lawyer,” said Ales.
He stressed that in his statement , he described the circumstances of his injuries in as much detail as possible. Ales is determined to bring the case to trial. The point is not even that he was subjected to such humiliation: “It’s just that evil and cruelty must be punished.”
“Everything that happened looks like a planned act of intimidation, given the number of victims and the nature of the injuries. The Ministry of Internal Affairs actually covering for its employees who have committed a lot of crimes,” he says.
Ales left the country – in Belarus, a victim can easily become a suspect. He will continue to work with the Investigative Committee through his lawyer. The Investigative Committee confirmed that his statement was received, and is currently being investigated.
The Investigative Committee received no complaints of sexual assault neither from men nor from women. The investigators also received no data on rectal injuries among men or injuries to female genital organs, the official representative of the Investigative Committee Sergey Kabakovich told TUT.BY.
The Investigative Committee of Belarus had received no complaints of rape by police officers during protest actions, First Deputy Internal Affairs Minister, Head of Criminal Police Gennady Kazakevich said at a press conference. He described the information on the rapes as fake. “One can not rape in a paddy wagon,” he said.
There are no registered official allegations of sexual violence against the detainees, Belarus Permanent Representative Yury Ambrazevich said during a debate in the UN Human Rights Council.
The BY_Help initiative, which helps detained, fined, wounded and beaten Belarusians, including Ales, has other information.
“We have data on at least five cases of sexual violence in very similar circumstances. At the moment, the information received is being checked, but we are already helping these people,” said Andrey Strizhak.