Helping the family of a released political prisoner Zhuk Vitali

  • Story

In August and September 2020, I participated in rallies, after which I was held administratively liable under Article 23.34 and fined on September 28. On my personal page in VKontakte I wrote a post entitled “Appeal to Lukashenko”, in which I called him a thief and a murderer, and compared the work of the punitive law enforcement agencies with the work of the Gestapo. After that the persecution of Kobrin police department began.

I was detained in Minsk on the night of February 4-5, 2021. On February 5, I was announced about the initiation of a criminal case under Article 368 part 1 of the Criminal Code — insulting the president. I was told that I was being served with a summons to a detention center, where I would be kept until the police received confirmation from Russia from the VKontakte office that the page on which the post was made belonged to me.

On February 7, 2021 I was taken to LTP-5. Already there I was placed on a preventive registry under the category: prone to extremist and other destructive activities. From that moment on I was suppressed both physically and psychologically. During the last three days of quarantine I was locked in a separate concrete building, completely unheated, when the temperature at night reached -17°-20° and I was tortured by cold.

They fed me from filthy dirty dishes, forced me to work, and placed me in a punishment cell. When my wife and daughter came to see me, I gave my wife the complaints. On the way out, my wife's examination revealed these complaints, after which she and my daughter, who was a year and a half old at the time, were locked in the exercise yard and my wife's cell phone was taken away so she could not call a lawyer. They brought me to her twice and told me they would use physical force on her if I did not influence her to give up her complaints. I refused to comply with their demand and so did my wife, after which they put me in a punishment cell for 22 days, and physical force was used against her. The chief of LTP-5, Moroz, repeatedly threatened to put my wife in jail and hand my children over to the custody agencies. The threats of physical violence continued when I found out and started writing letters that the products made in LTP-5, made by the hands of people in “cure”, from the Belarusan forest were supplied to private companies in other countries. The documentation was forged and the products were exported unstamped. It allowed the firms of other countries to put their marks on the production, reselling it to other countries under the guise of their own production. Oak trees were massively destroyed and exported. The first articles about the content and treatment of people held in LTP-5 began to appear.

I was able to let it out in letters, after which a man came to me and told me that I was doing the wrong thing. That's when he told me that anything could happen to me. I replied that if anything happened to me, then all my letters would be published automatically. After that, the head of LTP-5 openly said that he would put me in a psychiatric hospital and there I would get the diagnosis he wanted. 

I did not pay any attention to this. Then he called himself to the Investigative Committee of Kobrin and told them the same thing. The Investigative Committee responded. On August 13, 2021 I was taken to the Kobrin police department, where they handed me a detention order. During the investigation I was kept in pre-trial prison #6 in Baranovichi. On the way to Baranovichi, another political prisoner was put in the train with me, who said he was sick with coronavirus. Thus, the two of us were kept in the car together. Upon arrival to SIZO-6 after a week I also fell ill. They did not give me any medication, did not let me lie down, did not even allow me to close my eyes while sitting on the bench in the cell. A local doctor came and took my temperature. 

In SIZO-6 I was twice caught in a “stretching”, beaten on the head. Later part 1 of article 368 was replaced by part 2 of article 368, reasoning that I insulted and accused Lukashenka of especially grave crimes. Thus, in September 2021 I was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison. I served my term in full. Afterwards I was placed in a punishment cell, after which the head of the colony, Bubich, sentenced me to five more months of solitary confinement. 

At home they continued to pressurize my spouse, threatened me, conducted searches over and over again, and initiated administrative cases. During one of these searches they brought representatives of the social guardians, in the presence of whom they put the flag of the BGB into the children's toys, and then took it out, as if it had been there. They started administrative proceedings against my wife. I was kept in solitary confinement. The heating was turned on only in mid-October, but it was kept to a minimum and the cell did not get warm. It was so humid and cold in the cell that all paper (letters, envelopes, books, notebooks) absorbed it and became heavy and wavy. Salt and sugar, absorbing moisture from the air, dissolved (melted). No one responded to all the complaints.

On December 19, after my release, I went to the inspector at the ROVD for registration. There I was given two more years of preventive registration and told that I would go to them either every week or on any day they called me. Then, without letting me go, they betrayed me to the first deputy chief Kosyak A.M. He told me directly: "...before we were hindered by some legal nuances, but now I will eliminate you by all illegal means and nothing will happen to me. You think we don't know what your wife writes in the telegram feeds? We know everything. And soon I'll have you standing here together (in my office). Now you come to my town and you're not going to cause trouble. You and your family were fed by this hand (Lukashenko), and you started gnawing at this hand…" All this was accompanied by rude foul language and threats. That day I was released from the ROVD. Now my family and I are in another country, in a very difficult financial situation. We will be very grateful for the support until we can get our documents drawn up and find a job.

How much do we need?

3100 € — ticket payment; hostel payment; food; basic necessities; living expenses until we are reunited with our family, get documents and find a job; medical expenses.

€ 2 023 in 3 100