As the anti-government protests in Belarus continue, a video allegedly showing detainees piled up on the ground in an improvised "concentration camp" in Minsk began circulating on social media earlier this week.
Sent by locals to the Telegram channel Nexta TV, the video was reportedly filmed on Tuesday from a balcony in a suburban area in southwestern Minsk, Belarus, showing dozens of detainees laid up in rows on the ground in the October Region Internal Affairs (police) Department following a night of arrests.
Что это, если не пыточные условия?Против режима Лукашенко должны быть введены жёсткие санкции. Видео — Октябрьское РУВД Минска. pic.twitter.com/sZ6tcilP94— Борис Золотаревский (@ZolotorevskiyB) August 11, 2020
"October RUVD, a lot of people are lying in rows on the ground," a female voice said in the video. "You see? They are treating them like pigs, kicking them with their feet," another voice said. "They are beating and torturing them."
Over the past three nights of nationwide protests, the Belarusian authorities arrested more than 6,000 people, The Guardian reported Wednesday afternoon, citing official numbers. The demonstrations turned fatal two nights ago, with the first death recorded near Pushkinskaya metro station in Minsk.
Two people have died in clashes with police as of Wednesday, according to official reports released by the Belarusian Interior Ministry – one in Minsk and one in the southeastern city of Homiel (Gomel). According to locals, the number of casualties is higher than that officially reported by the authorities.
"They are saying one person [has died]. In reality, it is closer to fifty, and it is so scary, because half of [Lenin] Square is completely covered in blood," a resident of Bobruisk said Tuesday evening. The authorities "gave the forces the go-ahead to use live fire, so it is not rubber bullets anymore, but way worse."
A curfew was reportedly imposed on the country on Tuesday and both mobile and internet connection were shut down to suppress the protests, according to The Guardian.
"A curfew is going to be imposed today and an emergency state is being declared throughout the country," the local said. "And all that is because [Sviatlana] Tsichanouskaya won the election. The president said, 'A woman will never become president,' so he is not giving away the power. Someday they'll shoot him dead."
Clashes broke out in Bobruisk's Second Correctional Center as dozens of detainees revolted against the guards, Belarusian newspaper Nasza Niwa reported early Thursday morning. Troops reportedly began heading toward the center around 1 a.m. local time.
According to the media outlet, this is the first event of such kind since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Violent clashes have been taking place across the republic for several days. A protester was reportedly shot in the head in the city of Bierascie (Brest) on the Belarusian tri-border with Poland and Ukraine on Tuesday. The man was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition, according to a statement.
On Wednesday, the Belarusian Interior Ministry said protesters in Bierascie confronted security forces with metal rods. Molotov cocktails have reportedly also been used by the rioters across the country. According to the ministry, close to a dozen car rammings have taken place over the past days.
A five-year-old girl was injured by police in the city of Horadna (Grodno) near the Polish border, according to Maja Kraina Belarus. The girl was reportedly hit in her temple by shattered glass as a riot police officer shattered the window of the car she was in.
Following the events, videos of officers and spetznaz combatants taking the side of the protesters and calling to refuse to follow orders began circulating social media on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Clashes broke out in Belarus Sunday night as official preliminary results gave President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, over 80% of the votes, with opposition candidate Tsichanouskaya scoring 10%. The opposition claimed Lukashenko received closer to 20% of the votes.
Protests have been going on in Belarus for several weeks since the republic's Central Electoral Committee disqualified the only non-jailed oppositioner of President Alexander Lukashenko, Deutsche Welle and Belarusian non-state media reported.
The crowds were met with riot police and air raid sirens used to disperse the demonstrators. At least 420 protesters and journalists have been arrested by the Belarusian authorities following the demonstrations, according to civil-rights watchdog Viasna (Spring) quoted by Belarusian media site Tut.by.
Three main candidates registered ahead of the August 9 presidential election as Lukashenko's opponents, two of which – anti-establishment blogger Siarhei Tsichanouski and banker Viktar Babaryka – are currently in prison. Tsichanouski's wife, Sviatlana, registered as a candidate following his arrest.
On Tuesday, Belarusian state TV aired a video showing Tsichanouskaya calling on citizens to "respect the election results" and accept Lukashenko's "victory." The day prior, she was held incommunicado in Minsk's Central Electoral Commission, according to the BBC.
Various reports claimed the video was filmed in the apartment of CEC head and Lukashenko loyalist Lidia Yermoshina. Tsichanouskaya later fled to Lithuania, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevicius confirmed on Twitter.
The oppositioner later posted a second video, saying, "May God spare you from the choice I had to face," adding that "no life is worth what is taking place right now. Our children are the most important thing in our lives."