“I feel hateful towards all security forces: traffic officers, policemen or patrol on the streets.”
Timur and his mother live in one of the cities in Belarus. They asked us to change their names and the name of the city because they’re afraid of persecution. On the evening of August 11, Timur was detained by unidentified men in assault vests equipped with radios. The reason: the army boots and gloves Timur was wearing to supposedly “cover up the destruction of property”. The result: blunt head trauma, broken nose, multiple contusions and abrasions, the tremor that won’t stop after three months, two commissions on juvenile affairs, and nightmares that his younger sister has at night.
Timur, “I saw them as people. All I got in return all was dumb aggression”
“At about 6 PM five of us went to the square,” Timur recalls. “We saw lots of policemen, military men, and patrols. But it was calm. I had fingerless gloves on — you know, like for hiking or biking. Outside the square, I was approached by a man in a black t-shirt and an assault vest with a radio. He pushed me and asked why I was wearing those gloves. I said: “Because I want to”. He demanded to see my hands and looked at my wrists for a while before telling me to get lost.
My friends and I were hanging out till 9 PM. At 9:15 PM I called my mom and said that I was walking a girl home and would be back soon. I was walking back through the garage space and talking to the same girl on the phone. There near the garages, I run into three men in military uniform and one in police uniform. There was no one else in sight. I put the phone in my pocket without ending the call. A policeman called for me. As I understand, he didn’t like my clothes. I took the gloves off already, the beef was with the boots and joggers I was wearing — they were just regular green pants with pockets. The officers said that I was dressed in military camo.
I told them I was heading home, but they said to hold on until identity verification. Then a civilian car pulled up, three people got out, including the man who stopped me earlier about the gloves. He started shouting right away, “I told you, fucker, to stay out of my sight!”
I was thrown in the car by my arms and legs and they started beating me. Who knows why or what for. I didn’t resist — I didn’t get a chance. I tried to explain, tell them I’m expected at home. I saw them as people. All I got in return all was dumb aggression. As if there’s nothing human left in them.
They patted me down and continued hitting me: a blow with a baton on the neck, a punch in the gut, arms twisted, head down. They took my phone and gloves. Then they drove to someplace in a park, dragged me outside. I couldn’t really see anything — they put my face down right there. The hand behind your back, keep your head down. I guess so I couldn’t see their faces. Later at the police station, it took me a long time to remove little pieces of asphalt off my face.”
“Saw a rune image on my phone and started yelling that I’m a neo-nazi and a fascist”
In the park, I remember, they were mocking me. Hitting me on the legs and telling me to go faster and then hitting me again. More policemen gathered there at that point. Anywhere you look, blue uniform, green uniform, screaming. Several men were lying next to me in the same position, they were 30–40. They were beaten up, too.
I was told to unlock my phone. There was no connection, they checked my photo gallery. They latched on my screensaver immediately, it was a rune on a red background. Started yelling that I’m a neo-nazi and a fascist, five of them surrounded me and started kicking me and hitting me with batons. That same man was among them. He will later show up at my juvenile affairs commission. I shouted: “What did I do?” The answer was: “What good have you done for your country?”
Then they came up with another torment. I was lying, but because of the army shoes, I wore only the toes touched the ground. So those officers pressed on the heels with their weight. The boots are rigid and it twisted my feet painfully. Next, they began kicking me between my legs. I don’t get it, a person must have some limits — they’re all men, too. That was inhumane.
When they were beating me, I screamed that I’m 16. They said “don’t bullshit us!” and just continued. I have no idea how long we were on the ground until the paddy wagon arrived. I tripped at the entrance and was hurled inside head-first towards a metal hull, I almost blacked out. They put me in a cell.
When I got my phone back, I called my mother right away. She couldn’t hear because of the bad reception. Of course, no one knew where they were taking us.”
Vera, “What are you doing, chief? Why are you yanking him?”
Timur pauses. He lets his mother Vera speak. They sit together, you can tell they’re comfortable and open with each other. Next to them is a stack of papers: reports, inquiries, responses from the prosecutor’s office and the police, medical records, and a copy of the protocol.
“Timur called from the paddy wagon at 10:22 PM. When security forces took his phone, they hung up on the girl who was listening to that the whole time. The moment she got disconnected, she called 102 and said that her friend got detained. But the receiving party hung up.
The reception indeed was bad. I only heard the words “paddy wagon”. At that moment I put sneakers on and ran out. I ran to the square, then to the police station. The building was cordoned off, no one was allowed in. I was hysterical. I basically began pushing some officer at the entrance, screaming: “Where is my child?” They let me in, I remember the fright in their eyes, I must have looked insane.
It was then at the station when I saw Timur, and he saw me — such a relief. We were told to go to the office of some employee of the Inspectorate for Juvenile Affairs.
The inspector lady offered to settle the incident the easy way: “We’ll have a preventive talk and you’ll be released.” I said: “Pardon me? You’ll try to tell me a story of how beating up my child was necessary, let us go and you think you won’t be held accountable? No! I’ll file a report.”
She warned me that if I do, there will be consequences. But I started screaming at her not to threaten me because I won’t leave without filing a report. While we were arguing, she accidentally revealed that Timur was questioned by KGB officials. They, too, asked him about the rune and his hobbies. That made me even angrier. I’m his legal representative, any communication with him must be conducted through me or in my presence. I kept pushing for a report.
“Pardon me? You’ll try to tell me a story of how beating up my child was necessary, let us go and you think you won’t be held accountable/won’t be punished? No! I’ll file a report.”
Eventually, the inspector gave up and we were escorted to another office. There was the head of the Inspectorate for Juvenile Affairs, five policemen, and the district police officer. The latter immediately grabbed my kid, threw him against the wall, started searching him, shouting, twisting his neck. I was like, “What are you doing, chief? Why are you yanking him? You see he’s beaten up, why are you disturbing him?”
He told me, “Don’t get lippy with me!” I replied: “I’ll fucking tell you off if I have to, you asshole!” Frankly, I didn’t care. I was protecting my child. I know their military ways, I used to work in the army as a student. These people only hear you if you talk to them from a position of strength, harshly.
The officer was taken aback, stopped yanking Timur. Now they moved on to psychological harassment: they all yelled how I’m a bad mother, what a bad person he is for wearing army boots. The district cop said that if the scars on his ass were not from the police baton, but from my belt, he wouldn’t go to the square. Well, he didn’t go, in fact, he was walking home. It was late, I’ve had several asthma attacks and barely managed to stop them. But I did file a report (my husband helped me on the phone).
When we got home, the kid threw up. We called an ambulance, doctors diagnosed a closed head injury, and told us that to conduct a forensic medical examination we need a referral. I waited for Timur to fall asleep and went to the police station again with my husband. It was 4 AM. We were told that the address where my son was detained belongs to another station and they are the ones to make the referral. There we were told to come at 10 AM. When we returned, we got nothing. I went to the Investigative Committee. There was a woman who, once she saw a picture of my bruised son, made 20 calls to help me. She made sure the report was registered and we were given a referral for the examination.
At the same time, I filed two other reports to the prosecutor’s office. The first one against the police officer who assaulted my kid in front of me, the other against the arrest report which contained not a word of truth.”
Vera and Timur, “Two commissions were arranged”
On August 13 a report of an administrative offense was drawn up against Timur. It said that he was in a crowd of 10–15 people and shouted “Long Live Belarus” the loudest. Mother and son disagreed with the report. At the same time, Timur’s medical record was confiscated with an explanation that it was needed to prepare for the commission on juvenile affairs, which was to be held on September 2. That whole time, the boy couldn’t receive medical attention and undergo treatment.
Timur and Vera brought phone records to the first commission. The girl who heard everything that was happening testified as a witness. Timur was cleared of all charges. On October 17 the family received a summons for a second commission. “Turned out, three policemen who ‘saw’ Timur in the crowd decided to testify. The chairwoman dismissed our witnesses and didn’t let us speak a word when we tried asking questions,” says Vera.
“Those gloves came up again. The witness policeman described it to me like this: “You put them on purpose so that there would be no fingerprints or marks when you damage properties and injure people.” Even though the gloves are fingerless!”
In the end, the commission negated its initial decision and the family got a fine of 10 basic units ($105). Vera filed an appeal. A week later they got a notice from the police that the case on the fact of the beating was closed and there weren’t enough grounds even for administrative proceedings.
“We were asked to move out of the apartment that we’ve rented for 7 years,” Vera adds. “During the investigation, we were getting letters from the police, the prosecutor’s office, the Investigative Committee, and our landlord got scared and told us to look for another place.
Our younger daughter is now afraid of all people in black or with helmets. Once, a motorcyclist offered her ice cream, she ran up to me, saying: “Mom, one of those OMON people who beat up Timur wants to poison me, he gave me an ice cream.” And she asks all the time: Is the square close? There are no ‘astronauts’, right? Is it safe here?”
Vera, “Timur’s condition deteriorated after they beat him up”
After the commissions were over and the family got the medical record back, Vera decided to get Timur examined properly, she was concerned about his health. Volunteers helped with MRI, CT scan, and MRI with contrast. The examination has shown that there’s a colloid cyst in Timur’s brain. It can’t cause cancer, but it can grow. This may lead to an overlap in the part of the brain that’s responsible for the movement of cerebrospinal fluid (necessary for proper brain function) with subsequent progression to the hydrocephalic syndrome.
“This cyst was there before,” says Vera. “It formed at some point after an infection in his infancy. But with this kind of pathology any physical impact, any blow to the head, concussion or even stress is a huge risk.
Timur’s condition deteriorated after they beat him up. It’s been three months and he still experiences tremors and vertigo, sometimes he almost faints. At the moment we’re seeing a neurosurgeon and waiting for future tests.”
“I feel really hateful and aggressive towards all security forces: traffic officers, policemen or patrol on the streets.”
“Police officers are supposed to be role models, but in this case, they were rude, violent, demeaning,” Timur concludes. “Since that evening I feel really hateful and aggressive towards all security forces: traffic officers, policemen, or patrol on the streets. I would just spit in their direction. I can’t really put into words how much I hate them. After what I’ve seen I don’t consider them individuals or people. Their uniform, the way they walk, their actions — it all disgusts me.
I used to plan to enter the Ministry of the Interior Affairs Academy and go down that path. Now I abandoned that idea completely. I’m going to go to Belarusian National Technical University.”
P.S. Vera is thinking of appealing the closure of the case about the beating.