The police officer sat on me and shouted: “Look what a nice chair I have!”

“Viasna” human rights center and World Organization Against Torture (WOAT) continue recording incidents of torture, harsh, inhuman, and abusive treatment toward those people who suffered as the result of protests that took place in Minsk on August 9–13. Some testimonies of people who came through torturing and violence will be published on our web-page as evidence of criminal actions performed by the police.

Andrey Viarshenya was brutally pulled out from his own car by the riot police officers on the night of August 11–12 not far from the “Riga” mall, when he was driving his friends home. All the way to the detention center and later, the police officers were beating Andrey again and again until he started losing his consciousness. The man told “Viasna” the story of his detention.

On the night of August 11–12, Andrey Viarshenya was driving his friends home. The man was moving toward the “Riga”mall; at the intersection, there was a traffic jam, and a traffic police officer controlled the road traffic. Around, there were a lot of police officers wearing black uniforms, however, they didn’t have riot police sign written on their backs; they had triangles and some ciphers written instead.

Those armed officers in black uniforms came to the car with a Russian license plate. They started to pull the people out, inspect the car, and search for something.

“I realized what the situation in the country was, but I thought maybe they were looking for some, well, spies and those people had a Russian license plate, so that was why the officers decided to search their car. They forced the people to leave the car but I was sure till the very end that they would not run up to us, and we would go. And even if they would run, they would probably just search, find nothing suspicious and let us go”, — tells Andrey Viarshenya.

However, the officers came to Andrey’s car too. They pointed a gun at him, started pulling the men out the car, ordered them to lay down on the ground, and hit them several times. They found out who was the driver and told Andrey to open the trunk. They also took the phone Andrey left in the car and ordered him to open the photo gallery.

“I unlocked the phone and they immediately started to watch the gallery. At the same time, I was showing what was in the trunk; I had a perforating punch, a screwdriver, and other construction tools in special cases. One of the officers in black was picking those cases and cursing at me to open them”.

“In general, the communication process was rude; I could hear just cursing, and not a single polite word from the officers”.

On Andrey Viarshenya’s phone, they found photos and video records made on August 9 near the Minsk Hero City Monument. The man says that he did not agree with the election results and came to the protest with other people. He saw the explosions of stun grenades and took several photos and video records. He saved them on his phone.

“When they saw the photos and videos on my phone, they said: “That’s it, these are insurgents!” After that, they started beating me severely. Then they searched through my backpack; I had bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and my arrhythmia medicine there. They started to yell: “Look, he has a real medical kit here, he got prepared!”

They knocked me down the ground and started beating again. Then they pulled me off the roadway and put me on the sidewalk. One of the officers stepped on my head, and two others stepped on my legs; the officers pulled my hands with ties, and then they hit me several more times. Some of them kicked me with their legs, others were using the batons. They were yelling: “What’s that you are not happy with, you animal? You wanted changes — now how do you like those changes? How much did you get paid? Who is your commander?” I mean, they were sure that we really were bought and paid for.

They pressed the baton under the arms tied behind the man’s back and using it as a lever forced him to a bent position and led him to the police van.

“In the van, they ordered me to sit in a squatting position and not to raise my head. You raise your head — they beat you immediately, you say something — they beat you immediately.”

I squatted, and one officer sat on me and shouted to his mates: “Look what a nice chair I have”.

He was very heavy; my bones literally crackled. I said I couldn’t breathe, it hurt and it was hard. But he started hitting me in the face with his left hand and saying: “Why does it hurt you? It doesn’t hurt me!”

The van driver braked hard and the officer fell down. Then they hit me several times with his baton and said: “You bastard, you are not a very balanced chair”. After that, they immediately rolled me on my stomach, someone stepped on my head and legs again and they started beating me. They were mostly hitting me in the back and in the buttocks. It lasted long; at first, I shrieked, then I was just yelling with pain.”

For several minutes, while they were beating Andrey non-stop, they ordered other detainees to sing the Belarusian national anthem.

“One of the officers started to push his baton in my butt with all his might. I was wearing jeans and at that moment I couldn’t realize what was going on. Now, after I found out they raped people with batons, I understand they wanted to do the same to me”.

When the van stopped, the officers told the detainees they would have to run out. They said they must shout “I love AMAP (riot police)”, and if someone wouldn’t shout, they would beat them with batons. If they shout it loud, they wouldn’t beat them.

“I ran out and was shouting to the top of my lungs that I love AMAP; I didn’t want them to beat me again. But they still did. They were chasing us through the live corridor formed by the officers. Some of them were kicking people, others were hitting or beating them with batons. Later I found out they were beating everyone no matter if they shouted or not”.

They transferred us to another van. I got in a tiny cell with five other people. There was literally no space for the last guy, and they just started to beat him with batons on his legs after which they just jammed him in the cell while closing the doors. We were like sardines in a can; we literally couldn’t move. On the ceiling, I could see tiny bars and I realized it was a vent. When we touched, the airflow started but it was not enough for six. The world went dark before my eyes, and I lost my consciousness there, in that very cell, for the first time. I awoke after they simply threw me out down the ground at the Okrestina detention center and started beating me with batons so that I regained consciousness. Then they grabbed me by the arms and convoyed to the fence; the whole process was accompanied by cursing, beating, abusing, and offending. Before I managed to untie my arms but they ordered me to stay on my knees, my hands on the wall, my forehead pressed against the fence.

Andrey Viarshenya is not certain how much time he and other detainees spent like that; later the officers started to take them away for search. They forced the detainees to move on their hunkers. The man’s buttocks and lower back were beaten to a pulp, he couldn’t feel one leg.

“When I tried to move on my hunkers, I fell several times. Then I tried to go on my knees, and they were beating me on the back with a baton because I was slow. Someone grabbed me by the collar and pulled me along the ground; they told me to stand near the wall. Some woman came to us and asked our last names and employer names. The world went dark before my eyes again, and I started to lose consciousness. I regained it after the local medical assistance brought some liquid ammonia to my nose. I was in a state of prostration; they asked if I suffered any diseases. I said that I had ciliary arrhythmia, that I used to take medicine, and I felt sick. They had no medicine I needed but they let me sit on the ground”.

“I could hear inhuman screaming inside the detention center building, desperate screams, and sounds of beating with batons. First, those yells were loud, then they died down. There was a real hell there”.

Andrey Viarshenya vomited, he lost his consciousness again. They dragged him to a different place, where other detainees were lying, who were not able to walk or even move.

“The ambulance came, they hooked their arms through my elbows and pulled me into the car. My leg was as loose as a rope. They brought me to the emergency care hospital, where I was diagnosed with a medium severity traumatic brain injury, blunt abdominal trauma, vast hematoma of buttocks, and back. The ultrasound test revealed blood masses in the femoral artery area”.

The man receives medical treatment at the hospital, his car stays at the police impound; it has an indent on the passenger doors and its windshield is broken.

“I could never imagine I would jump aside when I see someone wearing a uniform. Before that night, I felt neutral when I saw a police officer. Now any person wearing a uniform makes me feel scared and disgusted”.

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