A straight look from behind “barbed wire” (Part I)
By Siarhei Parsiukevich,
political prisoner of Belarus in 2008
In August 2008, Belarusian regime released prisoners of conscience. This happened thanks to the pressure of the Belarusian opposition and sanctions imposed on the official Minsk by international community. Besides this, it seems quite natural that the authorities began to understand that they have no chance to hold down arm of the increasing domestic economic crisis staying out of at least endurable relations with the EU and the US.
Before we became the prisoners, Andrei Kim, Aliaksandr Kazulin and I had been interrelated by one common thing: we were starving for changes in our country, in particular those changes that could lead all Belarusians to Freedom and Democracy. We had little knowledge about each other since we had seen each other just few times before the prison. But we have become much closer to each other because of regime’s behavior against us. I believe that the main reason of such brutal and unexcused persecution from the regime had been determined by its will either to frighten or to destroy morally and physically active strugglers for Truth - Freedom - Justice. By this example the authorities were to make other Belarusians give up in themselves in view of defense their principal points of life not coincided with the interests of the clique of reactionaries.
I am to tell you about what I survived while I was in a real torture chamber of the Belarusian regime. I mean the other side of barbed wire.
First I would like to pay attention to the arbitrary behavior which is a trait of all stages of penal process in Belarus. This tactics, applied by the regime, is of perception to destroy a person morally.
I was outraged once I had learned that I became a target of the criminal process. How it may be a case in a European country of the 21 century?! I am convinced that I am enough experienced to evaluate this situation adequately. One can mention an incident that occurred in the Delinquents Isolation Center (DIC) in the Akrescina prison (Minsk), on January 21 when I was a target of the violation of Law . A warder Dulub, warrant officer, went beyond his commission by offending me with the usage of every stick and handcrafts. I don’t think that it was a warder’s duty to get physical with prisoners without any reason. When Dulub attacked me I had to defend not only my dignity but life which was clearly threatened. If I failed to escape from his hands I can guarantee pretty much that Dulub could have simply strangled me. He was enthusiastic too much in throttling. Form the other hand I could barely guess that the warder Dulub threw me into the investigation room just in order to read out my rights and obligations (though later on, during the trial this version was also slightly changed). What a lie can a person coin just to avoid his own responsibility… So, coming back to the beginning of the story I should say that I was called to Mr. Razanka, official investigator of my crime as soon as I had learned that criminal case had been opened against me. I wanted to clarify the situation because it was for me a really unexpected move. Razanka assured me that everything was ok. According to him I had nothing to worry about but he needed me just because he had some questions for me. Of course I felt confident enough because I knew exactly that I was innocent – a person who had never committed any crime. However, it is not a guarantee in such a country as present-day Belarus. For the last 18 months before I had been given signals several times that I would be imprisoned if I remained staying a whistleblower. Anyway I decided to go to the prosecutor office looking for the truth. By that time I was in Ukraine visiting relatives since I got spasmodic asthma and refractory ulcer reopened after my imprisonment in the DIC Akrescina prison. So I came back to Minsk.
In the prosecutor office investigator Razanka claimed that I was a suspect to commit a crime which is qualified by Art. 364 of Penal Code of the Republic of Belarus. He called a police agent from the Masko_ski police district in Minsk and I had been detained for three days until investigation was conducted. I understood that it was nothing else but a slander. Then I petitioned to check my facts and these facts to be provided by eyewitnesses with polygraph detector. I knew about this tool very well since I had previously been a police officer. From my experience I was aware of restoring a real story of crime committed by suspects. I was sure that it would help me a lot in my situation. Alas! My petition was just denied. I just wonder why? It looks like this happened because Razanka did not need true facts of the story and most probably it was rather dangerous for him to know exactly about what had happened in January, 21 behind the Akrescina’s wall. By the way this situation repeated again when Razanka had to introduce the story to a prosecutor in order to get the order for my arrest. The introduction procedure occurred on March, 7 in presence of my ‘victim’, who was lying into my throat. Here I ought to mention one key moment which characterizes the legislative process in Belarus. Right after convoy brought me out of the prosecutor office to the corridor two guys in mufti came into the room for a meeting with prosecutor. Razanka, in his turn, showed up after me to demand to convoy me to the ground floor. It seemed that I was unwanted listener of their ‘right decision’ if I would be standing near the room. Razanka appeared in corridor just in several minutes to announce about my arrest.
As it is a common practice in the civilized world the order for any arrest should be submitted to a judge. It is a judge who takes decision whether a suspect should be arrested or not. But it has not been a case of mine. Here I would remind the officials first of all that Belarus is a part of international conventions that require such procedure to be followed but not just to be declared. Although I must recognize that if it is even a case – to get decision of a judge - in Belarusian situation it is not a panacea since judges have being broadly engaged in politically motivated decisions and sentences. This is what proved my case as well.
The investigation has begun since Razanka started to collect ‘facts and evidences’ of my guilty. I submitted a list of witnesses. However only Aliaksandr Taustyka, individual entrepreneur in the Zhdanovichy market (Minsk), was called to investigator office to be questioned about my case the others were only ‘needed witnesses’ to testify that I am guilty. For instance, a witness Harbacheuski, selected by the investigator, found to get the arrest because he had stolen a bottle of vodka. Harbacheuski was in the same cell I was sitting in but he was just sleeping all the time while waking up only to take food.
What surprised me a lot that the testimony of this witness became a literal copy of other witness – a policeman Jakimchyk who was on duty that day in the DIC. How could it come up? I think it was just a computer copy-paste applied by the investigator during his collecting of ‘facts and evidences’. How can we call it? Our answer will not be so different since it is clearly said in the Penal Code of Belarus.
(To be continued)