Political prisoner Stsiapan Latypau tried to kill himself right in the courtroom; EU is preparing sanctions against Belavia, Lukashenko promises to launch flights to Crimea; pressure on the media continues as two more journalists are detained
1 June 2021 | Voice of Belarus
Political prisoner Stsiapan Latypau tried to cut his throat right in the courtroom
On 1 June, the trial of the Square of Changes resident, Stsiapan Latypau, began. Right in the middle of his court hearing, Stsiapan attempted suicide, stabbing his throat with a ballpoint pen.
“The Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption [one of the law enforcement agencies – editor’s note] promised that if I do not admit my guilt, they would start criminal cases against my relatives and neighbors,” said Latypau before committing the act. Before his suicide attempt Stsiapan Latypau told his father that he had spent 51 days in a special cell where other convicts, in agreement with the administration of the colony, put pressure on the “unwanted” while the guards “did not notice” it. This is done in order to demoralize a person or knock out the testimony.
By the time the doctors were able to get inside the cage where Stsiapan was kept during the hearing, he already lost consciousness. Stsiapan was hospitalized and operated on. The authorities assured that his life was not in danger. The doctors were prohibited from disseminating any information about Latypau’s condition.
Before the start of the trial, the witnesses noticed that Stsiapan was limping, had a swollen face and a black eye. When the judge asked if Latypau had any questions for the victim policeman, he replied that he did. “Victim, you said that I kicked you in the face. Look at me. Did you have a swelling on your face like I have?” Latypau asked. “No,” the policeman replied. “There are no more questions,” said Latypau. That was the hint Stsiapan gave to those present that he had injuries on his face from beating.
Stsiapan was detained on 15 September 2020. The moment of his arrest was captured on video as Stsiapan together with other residents of the courtyard was defending the mural with the DJs of Change on the Square of Change. Several police officers approached them. Stsiapan asked them to introduce themselves. Instead, the policemen twisted Stsiapan’s arms, threw him to the ground, and took him away.
Latypau’s house was searched and he ended up in a pre-trial detention center. Initially, Stsiapan was accused of alleged conspiracy to use chemical substances in order to poison the members of the security forces. However, now the accusation is completely different. He is accused of committing actions that grossly violate public order and of a large scale fraud. Nobody is talking about poisoning any more.
EU prepares sanctions against Belavia, Lukashenko promises to launch flights to Crimea
The EU is preparing sanctions against Belavia, some government representatives, the armed forces, and aviation. At the EU ambassadors level, the sanctions might be agreed upon on Friday, 4 June, to be finally approved by the foreign ministers of the EU member states.
At the same time, following the meeting with Putin, Lukashenko stated that the issue of Belavia flights to Crimea was being worked out. Earlier, the head of Belavia, Ihar Charhinets, said that there had been no reason to expect the establishing of flights to Crimea so far. “First, there should be a political recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. When there is a political decision we would look into it,” commented Charhinets.
Pressure on the media continues as two more journalists have been detained
Tribuna.com journalist Dzmitry Ruta was detained. He is accused of illegal picketing with a white and red scarf that was found inside his car.
Iryna Novik, the editor of special projects of the regional portal Hrodna.life, was also detained. Authorities think she was involved in posting links to an “extremist” Telegram channel on the Hrodna.life website. Earlier, Hrodna.life editor-in-chief Aliaksei Shota had been detained and later released.
After 20 days of arrest, journalists Aliaksandr Burakou and Uladzimir Laptsevich were released.
Journalist Aliaksandr Burakou commented on the conditions of detention as “a military prison, a military regime, not a detention center. The only thing left to do was to obey illegal orders actually”. According to the journalist, he was subjected to torture and inhuman treatment in the isolation ward, being deprived of normal sleep and having to regularly undergo strip searches in the prison hall. In addition, Burakou has never received the package that his relatives brought to the detention center on 13 May.
A senior citizen was fined for laying a flower at the death site of the Minsk resident who had died during the August protests.
Halina Ivanava was detained at the death site of Aliaksandr Taraikouski, who was shot by security forces in the center of Minsk on 10 August 2020. The senior citizen was accused of picketing “by raising her hand and laying a tulip”.
The policeman’s report says that she “held up two fingers [peace sign] and was waving to passing cars by the road”. The fine was over 1,300 euros.