“They prepared us for war against our people”

A current police lieutenant colonel speaks about the election and beatings

17 August 2020, 16:24 | TUT.BY

“The ideological conditioning was like this: if those currently in power lost the election, each of us (police officers) would be hung by a tree branch on the roadside. That’s why we need to defend this government by any means.” Watch this video testimonial about the events of the last several months for acting police Lieutenant Colonel Yury Makhnach, leader of a patrol guard company in the Lida District Department of Internal Affairs (ROVD).

Yury Makhnach’s testimonial.
Source: TUT.BY

To summarize, the video explains that:

  • Back in June, Lt. Col. Makhnach received an order to break up a small, peaceful protest in Lida from Lida ROVD Deputy Commander Denis Avramenkov. According to Makhnach, the demonstration was attended by retirees, men, women, people with small children and strollers who were doing nothing wrong. He refused to carry out his superior’s order, which had been issued to Dep. Cmdr. Avramenkov by Deputy Commander Aleksandr Shastaylo of the Grodno Regional Department of Internal Affairs.
  • During the pre-election campaign, “the Department of Internal Affairs started actual preparations for war against its own people.”
  • “The ideological conditioning was like this: if those currently in power lost, each of us (police officers) would be hung by the roadside. That’s why we need to defend this administration by any means.”
  • “Terrible things were happening in Lida: people were beaten at ROVD locations, beaten and tortured in police vans, at the ROVD car wash facility. Lt. Col. Makhnach says that these actions were carried out by Grodno Regional Riot Police OMON and Lida ROVD employees. At that time, he was on vacation because he knew he couldn’t work before the election.
  • In the Lida ROVD, 13 officers refused to beat and torture people and submitted their resignations “with their heads held high.” They were ready to give statements about the illegal actions taking place at Lida ROVD facilities.
  • “What I say here is done completely at my personal initiative. Nobody paid me to do it, as some like to say. This is from the heart. I can’t make peace with this. This attitude toward your own people is unacceptable.”
  • His apolitical friends and acquaintances were taken from their homes in their slippers. After being detained, they were all black and blue.
  • “I gave the best 23 years of my life to the service, and I never thought that things would turn out like this, that we would begin to treat our fellow countrymen in such a brutal, beastly way. I’m ashamed to wear my badge.”

Previously, Lt. Col. Makhnach said in an interview with a local newspaper: “I knew what I wanted to do for my profession when I was serving in the army and that time at the beginning of my career, when someone close to me became a victim of crime, that reinforced my decision: I want to solve crimes and rid the city of bad guys.”

He and several of his fellow officers no longer want to work on the police force.

Tomorrow, 18 August, Lt. Col. Makhnach is due to report to work to submit his resignation. TUT.BY follows the lives of Yury Makhnach and his co-workers.

Last week, brutal mass detentions were made in Lida and other cities. According to local residents, approximately 300 people were detained, and several were severely beaten. We will tell their stories a little later.