16 August 2018, Thursday, 20:40

Gray Zone

Iryna Khalip

Belarus is more and more resembling the Donbass.

Blogger Alexander Lapshin, a citizen of Israel and Russia, who served a prison term in Azerbaijan was pardoned last week after being nearly killed in a Baku prison. The Ukrainian citizen Pavel Grib, a disabled person since childhood, is not allowed doctors in Krasnodarsk prison. A Russian woman Louise Dudurkaeva was detained at the Argun police station together with her mother - night interrogations in Chechnya had become the norm. There is one thing that unites these foreign citizens: they were arrested or kidnapped on the territory of our country. The country that no one can consider safe. Alexander Lapshin was arrested at the request of Azerbaijan in December last year.

And then under the guise of Israeli diplomats KGB men came to Minsk detention center and offered to quickly sign an agreement on extradition without any bureaucratic stuff and go under escort to Baku, where he would be immediately extradited to Israel. He understood everything and was surprised with impudence the Belarusian KGB officers were trying to pass as Israeli diplomats. And we live here and have not been surprised for a long time. We live in the detention center Lapshin compared with Auschwitz and even survive sometimes. It seems to me that blogger Lapshin will hardly visit Minsk again. Ukrainian Pavel Grib kidnapped in the center of Homel in the blaze of the day and taken to the prison of Krasnodar is also unlikely to ever go to Belarus. However, his situation is even worse than that of Lapshin. In order not leave for anywhere he must be released from the Krasnodar prison where he being the person who never served in the army and visited Russia is accused of terrorism.

Considering that, the experience of Oleg Sentsov proves that the release from the prison is the hardest task to implement. However, young Chechen woman Louisa Dudurkaeva faces the hardest challenge: to stay alive. Speaking frankly, there are few chances for it. Perhaps, things happened to her in Belarus are even more loathsome than extradition of Lapshin and kidnapping of Grib. Lapshin was arrested at the request of the Azerbaijani authorities. Grib was kidnapped either by Russian special services or by Belarusian KGB men for subsequent transfer to colleagues. Okay, I suppose special services help each other, The Hague is their judge. But in case of Louisa, there were no special services, criminal cases, inquiries! There were only threats of criminal reprisal at homeland - and it was there the Belarusian authorities and sent the girl to.

Louisa escaped from Chechnya after threats of reprisal; Karfagen public group regularly published photographs of Chechens dressed in an "inappropriate way", and this meant baiting at best. In the case with Louisa, there were other circumstances. Her close friend was killed shortly before the escape. Relatives announced her missing. At the Moscow airport when flying to Murmansk (Louise was waiting for the decision of the Norwegian authorities to grant refugee status), she answered police questions, announced that she did not want anything to do with relatives and wanted only to leave. And asked to cross her name out of the “wanted” list.

It is noteworthy that Louisa passed the border control in Belarus. She was not in the list. She was taken out of the waiting room by policemen. And she was transferred to her father. And this is not the cooperation in the framework of signed agreements. This is a pure crime. In the sake of the experiment call the police and say that your close relative has been registered for an international flight, and you do not want to let him go and ask to detain him before your arrival at the airport.

Can you imagine their answer? That’s what I mean. It is a crime to detain an adult person at the "father's request" that is accompanied by a full-fledged bribe or other criminal arrangements. After a night interrogation in Argun Louisa did not contact anyone else. If she is very lucky, they will be forced to marry and be left alive. If not, they'll kill her. And it will be the guilt of the Belarusian authorities. Are there not enough people killed? Belarus has become a classical gray zone. As those Donbass settlements which are on the line of demarcation, and sometimes turn out to be on the frontline. There is no legal authority, there are no elections, banks and shops, schools and medical stations do not work there. Suburbs are mined there, smuggling flourishes, people disappear without a trace, no laws work there. It's dangerous to be there even if one has good intentions. And if you've found yourself there, your life does not cost a penny. And those who still hope to enter Belarus safely and leave it, one can only say: you still try go through the Donbass. The result will be the same.

Iryna Khalip for Charter97.org