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Andrei Sannikov: KGB Chairman threatened to murder my wife and son (Audio, transcript)

Andrei Sannikov: KGB Chairman threatened to murder my wife and son (Audio, transcript)

Today in the court of Partyzanski district of Minsk Andrei Sannikov, a presidential candidate, told about threats of the KGB Chairman Zaitsau (Zajtsev) and about tortures in the KGB remand prison. Read the full sensational transcript of the Politician's statement.

- I insist on the testimony that I gave in court. I want to make a statement explaining why I did it. I insist on the testimony that I gave today due to the fact that the evidence presented in the case was given under duress. What does this mean? This means that I was tortured. I have written a statement about tortures within a week after of being arrested.

I was badly beaten, but they kept me for 5 hours without letting me to the toilet in the overcrowded cell , practically on the floor, i.e. on the bare boards that were put under the bottom bunk. The space between the bunk and the floor was very narrow. It was difficult to be in this position with the badly injured leg. The cell was cold. Very cold. I felt unwell. I have written a statement about tortures because of the following - after 3 or 4 days I was given a place on the bank bunk, but was ordered to lie facing the “daylight” – bright light on the ceiling (at night there was "night" light), not being able to change the position. When I would fall asleep and turned over, I was woken up, the whole cell was woken up, and forced to lie facing the light in the same position.

After I wrote this letter, I knew what would come, I knew it would get worse. That is exactly what’s happened. I was immediately transferred to another cell, again on the floor, again under the bunk. Again making it very uncomfortable for me, I remind you that my leg was severely injured .

The procedure of personal searches was used. At some point, especially before all the interrogations had started and during the period when first few interviews were conducted this procedure was used on a daily basis. What is it? One is taken out of the cell with all his things. With all things means all personal belongings (which means the mattress and bedding). The person is chased down fairly steep stairs. Why do I say "chased"? Because from the very first days masked men of unknown origin appeared in the KGB detention center , they were well trained in handling us, political prisoners, showed aggression and were rude towards political prisoners. I can only speak for myself, with regards to other prisoners I could only guess.

So going back the procedure of personal search. One is being chased down while this masked men were banging batons on everything around - on the walls, on stairs – to make everything shake. Then the prisoner is lead into the cellar, a large room, cold with concrete walls.

Stripped naked the prisoner is made to stand by the wall, stretched, i.e feet wider than shoulders, much wider. Naked, with twisted arms in a cold room they could keep me for quite a long time. Then I was forced to squat. Every time I drew their attention to the fact that I have injured leg which was recorded in the KGB jail infirmary. It had no effect. Then I would be allowed to get dressed. The whole procedure takes place in the presence of at least three masked people who keep banging on the walls and scream on the top of their voices. After getting dressed one would be gathering one’s belongings. Particularly I had “fun” when amongst these personal things was a parcel my mother just passed on to me . Firstly, it is heavy, so it’s even more difficult to go up and down the stairs. Secondly, there were oranges and apples that roll away and get scattered all over the floor. Perhaps it gave these masked men a special pleasure to see how prisoners were collecting them.

I repeat that this procedure was repeated daily, during the period initial interrogations. I was denied the right to correspond with anybody for a month. I have not received a single letter from my family and they have not received my letters.

Masked men, who were really well trained in psychological intimidation techniques like wild shouting and banging also used batons to push prisoners and hit their legs.

I was constantly handcuffed in detention center; it’s still the case- I’m being handcuffs even when moved a short distance away. There are different ways of being handcuffed. The person could be allowed to walk normally with handcuffs or arms could be twisted behind the back and raised, forcing the person walk bend over. The later method was used.

The first petition about tortures I wrote to the head of the detention center. I was punished for it. Writing petitions in KGB jail is not safe.

During the entire period of interrogation, I was kept in this inhumane way under the bunk, suffering from poor health and badly injured leg. I was also pressured by the cellmates (apparently well briefed about all details of my case) who advised me to follow the example of other candidates who have written letters to Lukashenko. When this didn’t work they were constantly creating conflict situations in the cell.

All this I could endure but on the Dec. 22, when the charges were presented to me, I have learned that my wife was in KGB cell as well. Then I learned that there was an attempt by social services to abduct my son. I was told by the head of detention center, by investigators Mironov and Lavrenchuk, and security officer Fetisov that if I wanted to help my wife, I have to cooperate. Not only give testimony but the testimony they wanted me to give.

On the 31 of December, New Year Eve, late at night, I was forced to have a conversation with the chairman of the KGB Zaitsev, who made threats about lives and health of my wife and child. When I refused to confirm the false statements offered to me and refused to write any appeals, Zaitsev said the following: in this case we will apply more brutal measures to your wife and child.

Of course, I was taken aback by this because I believe that the person in such position and, perhaps, considering himself an officer should not sound like a crime boss. I took these words very seriously and realized that, indeed, the life of my wife and son depend on me , especially as my wife was in the same prison where I knew how they treat prisoners. Furthermore, the specifics of the KGB prison is that there are cells for women but no female guards.

Then police detective Fetisov was working with me. He followed the topics outlined by Zaitsev, preparing me for the interrogation, dictating what to say, what topics to cover. They were not interested in events on the Square, but issues of funding, my contacts with foreigners and so on. Before the first interrogation all topics were specified in details, I was told what information to give and how I should cover it. Upon entering the investigation room, I saw a security officer Fetisov, who came especially to make sure that I would give the correct evidence. Together with Fetisov interrogating officer Mironov made a detailed plan of my questioning, cautioning that the references to the Constitutional right not to give testimony that could be used against me, will not be accepted as an answer. I did not care at the time as I was only concerned about one thing.

I had a very bad pain in my liver before the first interrogation, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was only afraid that I could not give the right testimony to help my wife. Another investigator Lavrenchuk was rude to me, suggested some answers to the questions and asked questions that were not related to the events of December 19. Therefore, in places the testimony simply did not match the reality – not my words were written down.

Throughout the interrogation I was denied the right for legal defense. Only on March 22nd was I able to meet with councill in private and exercise my right for defense. Even my demands, requests to provide me with documents, including the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, were not satisfied. In all interrogations the lawyer was given a role of a mute. Not only I could not talk to him, I was not allowed even to look at him. During all interrogations, I was feeling unwell and notified the investigator. However, I did not refuse to testify. The only thing I asked for at the end of the interrogation a purely technical help from the lawyer - just proof-read the papers, not to correct. Even that was denied

Throughout the all time of interrogation there was continuous psychological and physical pressure on me in the KGB jail. Apart from the fact that I was deprived of the right of correspondence for a month, I was completely isolated from the media, did not receive newspapers and still do not get the ones I was subscribed for. The television was disabled. Instead, they turned on so-called internal TV channel. Initially I was forced to watch the official Belarusian propaganda, and then they started to show films for possibly preparing prisoners for something. Don’t know what for, but one of the films was banned in Russia. It's called - "Russia with a knife in the back." Black-Hundred Film, openly anti-Semitic, calling the audienceto fight with " Jewish fascism" and destroy the Jews.

This is not an isolated case. Documentary movies with explicit scenes of violence, such as cutting off heads of captured Chechen bandits, dismembering corpses, including children - is a common practice in the KGB jail.

Head of KGB jail, also kept having forced conversation with me. Why is it done? The explanation is simple - to prepare prisoners to take the "right" decisions.

I am making this statement to say that the testimony I gave during the interrogations does not fully reflect the reality. I made this statement before. It is filed in case documents and says that I am ready to explain unclear moments during the court hearing.

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