News / Europe

Belarus Denies Reports of Torture in KGB Facility

Ales Mikhalevich, a candidate in Belarus' recent presidential election, speaks during a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, where he said he was tortured in prison.
Ales Mikhalevich, a candidate in Belarus' recent presidential election, speaks during a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, where he said he was tortured in prison.
Stefan Bos

Belarus has denied allegations of large-scale torture in a secret service jail for political prisoners.  The statement comes after a just-released former presidential candidate and a leading activist spoke to reporters about the alleged mistreatment of inmates.  

The secret service of Belarus, known as the KGB, has strongly denied allegations of wrongdoing in its detention facility.

But former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich, who was released last Thursday, describes the prison as "a KGB concentration camp."

He says KGB forces made him stand naked in the freezing cold, deprived him of sleep, dragged him on the floor while handcuffed, kept him in an overcrowded cell, and interrogated him without a lawyer.

Offering more details, Mikhalevich explains one incident when he and all detainees in his prison cell were allegedly taken to a separate cold room where they were stripped down.  He says KGB forces made them stand naked, spread eagle, with their "arms stretched against the walls for about 40 minutes."

Mikhalevich says he was released under the condition that he informs the KGB about other opposition politicians and that he keeps silent about the torture of detainees.

He explains that the KGB also used torture to pressure him to cooperate with them.

Mikhalevich says "people wearing camouflage uniforms and face masks dragged" him out of his prison cell, handcuffed him behind his back and pulled his arms so high that his face was "hitting the concrete floor" and his bones cracked.  He says they used this method until he promised to cooperate with them.

The former presidential candidate claims he was held in a freshly painted room without ventilation.

Another activist, Natalya Radzina, editor of the opposition Charter-97 website, says she was summoned by police Tuesday after attempting to confirm Mikhalevich's claims in an interview.

She told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that she heard commands given by guards to male inmates of the KGB pretrial detention center that "corroborate" what Mikhalevich told journalists.

The KGB says the allegations are untrue and, in their words, removed from reality.

Mikhalevich and some 25 other Belarusian opposition leaders face prison sentences of up to 15 years if convicted of involvement in massive demonstrations that followed the country's December presidential election.

He was arrested with several other presidential candidates on December 19, 2010, after protesting President Alexander Lukashenko's election to a fourth term in office in what the opposition says was a rigged vote.  

Mr. Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus practically unchallenged for 17 years, has called for the "maximum prosecution" of those who led protests against his rule.

The European Union, currently headed by Hungary, and the United States have announced fresh financial and travel sanctions against the Belarus government in response to what they view as a violent crackdown by authorities on dissent.

Neighboring Poland has warned Minsk that Mr. Lukashenko may face the same fate as presidents in Egypt and Tunisia, who were ousted in recent uprisings.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs