A few days ago a coordinator of "European Belarus", Maxim Vinyarskii, was released after 15 days in jail. He spoke about the details of his arrest and his stay in the detention center on Okrestina Street in an interview with this site.
Maxim, under what circumstances did your arrest take place?
I was travelling on a no. 13 trolley bus to the side of Stone Hill. At the next stop after “Western” market two policemen got into the carriage and demanded that I go with them for “identification.” I showed my passport, but it did not help; I was taken to the first police department of the Frunzenskii district. Afterwards I was taken to Frunzenskii Main District Police Department of Minsk. I was told that the area of Pushkinskaya metro station was plastered with posters, and that there was information that I was involved in this.
For more than 4 hours I was interrogated about who produces our printed material and where, the means by which it is distributed and where it is stored. During questioning, several times they issued threats that they would use of physical force and special means, then they tried to force me to sign a protocol (on which featured sticking up posters, hooliganism and resisting police) that I admit my guilt.
For my refusal to accept the protocol, I was told that would set up not one, but three protocols: one for sticking up posters and two more for disorderly conduct and resistance, and as a result I would receive 15 days detention and a fine. Until the morning I was kept in a detention cell under the watch of the district police department.
Can you tell me more about the threats made to you by the police?
In the Frunzenskii district police department they warned me that it was possible that a criminal charge might be made against me on account of the text of the leaflets, which had been distributed by campaign activists. The policeman responsible for the supervision of provisional release promised to order his staff to punish me. Also, after I again refused to sign the protocol, a police officer in civilian clothes took me out into the yard of the police department, pinned my hands in the handcuffs behind my back and fastened them to the railings.
What do you think are the reasons for such behaviour by the police?
It is clear that my detention and the threats made against me and my friends are connected with an attempt to stop the action of the campaign. The task of special intelligence forces is to destroy all those who continue to distribute independent information and carry out protest. This is especially important for them because of the economic crisis which has gripped the country. The authorities are trying to crush all pockets of resistance and to intimidate all those who can approach ordinary people.
How did your trial go?
The policemen who arrested me were not there, and other police officers appeared as witnesses: Golovin A.A. and Kuzyakin V.I.
According to their testimony, they followed me from Pushkinskaya metro station, and when I tried to escape arrest I became noisy, attracted the attention of people, cursed, and so on. At the police station I was not allowed to call a lawyer on the grounds that I had no money to pay him. In court I initially demanded a lawyer, but was faced with the fact of making a choice: 15 days without a lawyer, or 25 with the lawyer; knowing the bias of the court, I decided not to prolong this process.
Judge Lyudmila Ivanovna Lappo did not take account of any of my arguments, joined the two charges into one and condemned me to 5 and 10 days of arrest, making a total of 15 days.
Your cellmates said that you were on hunger strike.
Yes, from the first day of serving the sentence I was on hunger strike. My hunger strike was held in protest against the police and judicial lawlessness in Belarus.
What are your next steps?
Today I filed an appeal against the decision of the court in my case, asking that the verdict be overruled. And I’m certainly going to continue to pursue my activities, despite what has happened. I am confident that the regime cannot force the opposition and all those who disagree with it to remain silent.