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(en) Belarus, pramen.io: Minsk: an IT-specialist kidnapped by the cops at night for writing "ACAB" in Facebook
Fri, 24 May 2019 10:16:15 +0300
Here we quote the Facebook post of IT-specialis Hleb Rubanau from Minsk, who have
participated in internet-flashmob "IAmExtremist" and was punished by 30-hours detention
and fine. ---- "As you may know I live in non-democratic country. At the end of 2018
regime started new crackdown on freedom of speech. They started accusing people of
"extremist posts in social networks", which is punishable by heavy fines or (in theory)
short-time arrest up to 15 days. ---- My friends Mikola Dziadok and Aliaxandr Dzianisau
were punished with fines (typical case could be "antifashist picture with crossed swastika
considered as nazi propaganda", or critical antifaschist publication punished as extremism
because it included the illustrative photo of people wearing prohibited symbols of
ultra-right group, or something like that).
In response, Mikola Dziadok started a campaign of civil disobedience, called
"#IAmExtremist", asking people to post "extremist" materials to protest against the
"anti-extremist" law (which is just a tool of censorship). Regime predictably reacted with
more trials and fines. I was on the radars too.
This Tuesday (May, 7th), at 4.30 am police called to my landphone and asked to go out and
check the "car possibly damaged by vandal". I'd not care about car, but they told I have
to confirm there's no damage and no accusations against some (virtual) person detained and
suspected in vandalism.
As I arrived on scene, they detained me and put in jail for 30 hours, "as a measure to
ensure my participation in trial for extremism", which was scheduled for 11.00am wednesday.
I am not eligible for the "arrest as a punishment", as I look after mother with
disabilities. Nevertheless, I can be (formally) "detained until trial" (up to 72 hours),
which they exactly did, despite the fact that I did not refuse to appear in court and
explicitly requested them for written subpoena, which makes detention unnecessary unless I
am obviously hiding. I also informed them about my mother condition and the existence of
4-years-old kid, as they are obliged (in theory) to take into account the social
situation, when making the choice between detention and subpoena.
During detention, my rights to make written appeals were several times rejected or obstructed.
During transfer from police station to the jail police tried to make a video record of my
face, with the intent of submitting the data into automated system of faces
identification. I successfully refused the controversial procedure as something I am not
legally obliged to do (it took only 15-20 minutes of hot dispute).
When I was transferred to jail from the police station around 1pm, me and two other
detainees were told that we'll only receive food next day, because of late transfer. For
the same reason our families are not allowed to deliver food for us until next day. This
effectively meant me and other guys will have no food for more than 24 hours (since
tuesday night until wednesday morning). I informed them that this situation formally looks
like cruel treatment and may be qualified as torture, prohibited by international
conventions. In protest I declared a one-day hungerstrike until supposed trial. In the
evening they tried to provide us some food "semi-oficially", but I politely refused.
Later in the evening I discovered several insects on my matress and informed the jail
personnel of the situation, demanding some mitigation actions. No action was taken, so
around midnight I informed the personnel that I refuse to sleep on potentially infected
matress and therefore have no place to sleep and will be staying/sitting all night. This
verbal information was accepted without reaction, written appeal was only accepted in the
morning despite multiple requests. I also declared this is a potentially "cruel/torture"
At around 11am wednesday I was delivered to court... and set free. No trial happened, I
was given an official subpoena to appear for trial on Thursday May 16. This paper was
exactly the document I proposed the police officer to give me at 4.45 am Tuesday instead
of 30-hours detention.
So I consider this story as an unjustified repressive action with the intent of spreading
fear among "usual people" who are openly criticizing the regime and/or are sympathizing
the public civil rights activists. However, I do not suffer and am considering the current
situation as a tactic victory - I was able to use all available non-violent resistance
methods with maximum possible effect. My plan is to dismiss the case completely on May
16th trial (despite courts are pro-regime, sometimes they dismiss obviously staged and/or
too badly faked cases).
My physical condition is fine, and I must admit that no physical violence happened. Some
media distributed quite scaring photo of me which looks like I was severely beaten. It's
not the case, I was just looking naturally badly due to 30 hours without eat and sleeping,
plus had a bruise on my nose which was existing prior to the arrest. So, if you see this
photo, I'd be thankful for not sharing it without context (or, better, not sharing at all).
I will continue to struggle for my civil rights with all possible non-violent methods, and
will inform you of the news.
Thanks a lot for your support!"
At May, 13, Hleb Rubanau was fined on around 370 euro for his comment on Mikola's Dziadok
Facebook page. He have posted a link in his comment, and the preview of his link contained
"ACAB" abbreviation. This abbreviation is officially banned in Belarus as an "extremist
With no doubt, this all case was created and inspired by GUBOPiK (Belarusian
anti-extremist police) to show that even "common people" (Hleb Rubanau is not an
activist), who support the #IAmExtremist flashmob, will be found and punished.
Update by Hleb Rubanau:
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