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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs