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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs