These are verbatim translations of testimonies from several Belarusians protesting the fabrication of the presidential elections in Belarus.
Liliya Akhremchyk, writer and coach
Hi guys. We’re alive and well, except incredibly stressed out. We couldn’t get online, there’s been a hard block on Internet access. I’m using VPN on my husband’s phone, don’t know how long it’s going to last.
Guys, this is Hell here. ((( Nobody expected this, nobody was ready for this. Lukashenko has started a war against Belarusian people. ((( I don’t know what they’re using to brainwash OMON [translator: anti-protest SWAT], maybe they tell them this is some sort of foreign invasion, but they act like animals, worse than animals. There’s no foreign influence here, people just go to the streets on their own! All over Belarus, in all cities and small towns.
People go to absolutely peaceful protests, wearing shorts and flip-flops, and the policemen throw flash-bang grenades into the crowds, shoot some hellish kind of rubber bullets that tear flesh apart, the grenades cause heavy injuries. They use tear gas, in some cases tear gas capsules got inside apartments. And how they beat people up! ((( People, this is so scary!!!! They haven’t a shred of pity, not even a little humanity, this is pure undiluted fascism. Five or six of them attack one man and cripple him. (((( We weep all day through and go to the street in the evening. We were able to run away from OMON so far, God has mercy. They beat up women regardless of their age, they beat teenagers bloody, they break bones. I don’t know if I’ll be able to upload, we have a video of someone lying on the ground, already beaten up, and they kick him more, and hit him in his face. ((((
They grab and beat up people off the street, too, ignoring any law or just cause. They just grab anyone. And they say: “You wanted change? Here’s your change!” An OMON policeman was beating on arrested girl’s wrists and kept saying “there’s nobody you can complain to anyway.” They dragged another girl by her hair. They beat up kids and pile them up in their buses!!! Looks like they got an unlimited cart-blanche. ((((
They say there’s going to be curfew any day now. They tried to stop medics from giving first aid to the injured, to stop them from arriving without carrying policemen in their ambulances, medics are trying to resist that. OMON take the ambulance cars and drive them into a crowd, the crowd lets them through to help the injured, instead they jump out of the ambulance and beat up the people who bring them the injured.
People, please, don’t believe any propaganda, there are no fighters among us. People make barricades out of whatever they find on the street, just as cover from the grenades and the bullets. Yesterday there was a fight at Pushkinskaya, Sportivnaya, and Kammennaya Gorka metro stations, and near the “Riga” supermarket. The night before, after the elections, at the Stella and downtown. People come unarmed and get obliterated! Lukashenko is starting a genocide of his own people!
All the while BT [translator: Belarusian state TV] shows clips about a “smooth election” and says NEXTA TV [translator: independent video streamer] is telling teenagers to start a massacre. We’re not teenagers! People come with their entire families. A 58 year old woman was next to me yesterday.
The poll stations that refused to fabricate the results reported that Lukashenko got 5–13% of the votes. And he painted 80!!!! People are incensed. Around 5,000 people have been arrested, maybe more. They say there’s already 8 people killed. MVD [translator: ministry of interior] denies this, but there were witnesses! Medics are forbidden from speaking of deaths. They’re only asking to stop this because injuries like these can’t happen where there is no war.
Please, share the information about us!!! Don’t leave us in a vacuum. We need help very much, but we don’t know who can help us. (((( Subscribe to Nexta, Basta, tut.by, onliner.by. Speak about us! Ask your governments for help!
How about that, falsifiers, town councils, teachers, members of sports parties! You painted a fake victory for your Sun God, and the next morning you wake up in a country where your children, grandchildren, fathers, friends, neighbors are beaten with truncheons, burned and blinded by flashbangs, ran over by avtozaks [translator: armored mobile jail vehicles], shot at (and the rubber bullets aren’t as formless as your politics of being afraid of losing your job: they penetrate skin and tear flesh).
You kept telling us about peace, but now we’re in a country at war. This war wasn’t started by unarmed objectors against your senility and your falsifications, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, this war was started by your guarantor of stability, the one who “pays pensions on time.” Speaking of pensions, you might want to know that it’s not him that the money is coming from, your pensions are paid by the men now getting ran over by avtozaks. Yes, the very same people that the shameless state TV and other state disinformedia call “drunk felons,” that’s the people paying into FSZN [translator: public social security fund] so you could get a pension.
You wanted stability? The stability you got is that day after day thousands of Belarusians are jailed for their opinions, their music, their flag, for going on a walk, for exercising the rights supposedly “guaranteed by the Constitution:” rights to peaceful assembly, to freedom of conscience, to receiving and spreading current and accurate information. In this country, with this president, law enforcement spits on the Constitution, and courts spit on your testimonies. This is a country of guilty until proven innocent, even if you weren’t there you won’t be able to prove anything. You chose a country where there’s sausage in the grocery stores and where the human rights don’t exist.
You still think this won’t affect you? You still believe that your chosen one got the majority? We already have an audio recording of city councilors telling an electoral commission at a poll station to swap the numbers for candidates number three and number four because number four got 80%. If you are still sleeping well that’s because you have no conscience and you’re probably doing ok. You praise and thank your leader for your own fairy tale life. We are not happy for you, because in the fairy tales the naked king gets called out, the cockroach gets eaten by a sparrow, and the entire army of villains goes with them.
“I’m not paying the fines, if I have to spend time in jail I will: it will only be a while, and then we’ll swap places” — that’s what my brave friend said today. I’d be concerned if I were you, her predictions often come true. I am so proud of my friends and my parents, they live by their conscience. I am proud of my teachers: not a single one worked in election commissions. I am proud of poll station #4 in Stolbtsy, where the votes were counted honestly and Tsikhanouskaya won! I am proud of my second cousin Vladik who has put on the “Peremen” song [translator: “We demand change,” a cult Perestroika song by Kino] in Kievski park!
Did you notice how state media always capitalize the job title of the president of Belarus? And how they don’t do that for all other presidents, except in official congratulations? This is their cynicism in one sentence. They mean that is one is one of a kind, and all others are interchangeable. Long time ago, he’s declared himself special, all-powerful, and this cult of personality is carried on by every falsifier, OMON policeman, city council worker, and military personnel following his criminal orders.
Dzmitry and Yan Halko
Managed to get an update from Yan. Turns out he and Hleb didn’t make it to the “Riga” supermarket, they got grabbed at the railway station. They hit them in chest and abdomen with fists. When, standing on his knees in the Okrestino jail, began to doze off, he was “woken up” with a hit by a rifle butt. All detained teens (Yan and Hleb are 17 and 16) — including girls — were forced to stand on their knees in the jail’s corridors. He said he saw a room that looked like a torture chamber, dirty and wet, with naked and blood-covered young man standing on his knees. All adults were stripped naked and beaten with truncheons. With an endless stream of swearing, insults, and threats.
“Guys were all crying there, me and Hleb were the only ones to hold it together. It’s a freaking nightmare. Cops got a cart-blanche to do anything. This is already a North Korea,” said Yan.
Audio of a phone interview Yan gave to a Ukrainian journalist:
Irene Batakova, artist
This is not Minsk, this is another planet.
Yesterday, in Minsk and all over Belarus they blocked Telegram, Vyber, in the afternoon Internet went down.
I went to vote with my son, we stood in a huge line, voted for Tsikhanouskaya, then I went to a friend’s place, and he went to meet his friend. I was at my friend’s until 10pm, then the city started to fill with car honks.
Internet was already off, you couldn’t call Uber, all taxi services were shut down, too, and downtown metro stations were all closed. I took a tram home. Tram stopped near “Korpus” cafe, the street was blocked. I walked from there all the way to Youth Palace. There were crowds on the sidewalks and in some places on the streets, cars going in different directions honked, drivers and pedestrians waved at each other — air was filled with the filling of national unity. People weren’t aggressive — on the contrary, they were happy and inspired like it’s a holiday. Old, young, all generations and social statuses, with and without national symbols, all together. I’ve never seen Minsk like that.
I thought “This isn’t Minsk, this is another planet.”
You could hear explosions through the honking cars, coming from the Pobediteley Prospect. OMON was dispersing protesters over there.
I got home around 11pm, I don’t remember exactly. There was still no Internet.
Soon my son came home, he showed photos and videos from the heart of the protests, of OMON dispersing the protesters.
Car honks and explosions went on until 2am.
Internet was still down in the morning. I watched EuroNews, all they had was some gibberish about Lukashenko’s victory, total vacuum. No information about what was going on here. Nothing. Casually mentioned that yesterday there was some trouble with Internet in Belarus. “Trouble” they said! Just happened, yeah.
This morning there’s still no Internet. I could only open TUT.BY, and even there I couldn’t get to my emails.
By noon some sites started to work. I was able to post this in LiveJournal.
Google, Facebook, Telegram are still inaccessible. Vyber kinda works, calls and voice messages don’t come through.
They want to bury us in information vacuum.
This is stupid. When people can’t go online they go to the streets.
Here’s what I learned.
Yesterday around 200,000 marched in Minsk.
Around 3,000 were detained. Some might get 8–15 years in prison.
There are injured and maybe dead.
There were protests in 33 cities.
In three cities OMON put down their weapons!
We will win.