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'Covered In Blood' -- Belarusian Protester Talks About His Arrest, Imprisonment

Illya Bohdan: "They beat us even before we were put in the trucks." (file photo)

Illya Bohdan: "They beat us even before we were put in the trucks." (file photo)

Twenty-three-year-old Illya Bohdan is a member of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front. He was detained during the election protests in Minsk on December 19. He was released on December 29 after 10 days in jail. Bohdan spoke with RFE/RL's Belarusian Service after his release.

RFE/RL: There were reports that people were brutally beaten in the police trucks. What was your experience?

Illya Bohdan:
They beat us even before we were put in the trucks. People were beaten with clubs. The police also pushed us into the truck with clubs, not with their hands. That's why people were covering their heads. There were many people in the truck, and it is possible that they beat the last ones because it was full. They were pressing as many people as possible in it.

RFE/RL: Where were you sentenced and who testified against you?

The trial was in the court of Minsk's Funzenski district. The names of the witnesses were in the protocol, but they were not present. The judge only read the papers. We know that they were riot police whom we had seen in the jail building on Akrestsina Street [in Minsk]. They were three or four people who testified against about 50 people.

RFE/RL: We have reported that there were people with broken teeth and arms in the Akrestsina jail. Have you seen such cases?

: Yes, there were many such people. There were many guys with smashed heads; people were covered with blood. There was a person who was saying that he is a writer and has a lot of readers. He pleaded for an ambulance, but the police refused. He had a broken arm and some teeth smashed out. I saw a person with both arms broken who behaved as if nothing had happened. A courageous person. His hands were in his pockets. When he took them out, they were blue and huge.

RFE/RL: What were the conditions in the Akrestsina jail and how did the jailers behave?

It wasn't my first time in the Akrestsina jail, and surprisingly they behaved quite nicely. There were many new police there.

RFE/RL: Did you know, while in jail, about the wave of solidarity in Belarus? How often did you get parcels from outside?

We felt it. The parcels were coming and coming. If we count them, it seems that every person received several parcels daily. I got two or three parcels from people I do not know. It's unexpected, it's pleasant. I'm very grateful. You understand that those people who maybe were afraid to come to the square were doing everything possible to help us.