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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid