Belarusian opposition leader Stepan Latypov, who is on trial in Minsk, made his last speech at the meeting.
“They turned on the radio at full volume and started beating me … When it was especially painful, I remembered the words of my mother, she taught me to say to myself:“ I’m a little, little hedgehog, it doesn’t hurt at all. ” And this helped me for a moment. But they are very experienced, they called me by name all the time, and I couldn’t turn off in any way, ”the defendant said.
Earlier, at one of the court sessions, Latypov cut his throat during a court session due to threats from investigators. The defendant climbed onto the bench in the cage, so that the guards could not reach him, and stuck a pen in his throat. Before that, he said: “The GUBOP promised that if I do not admit my guilt, there will be criminal cases against my relatives and neighbors.”
In his last speech, Latypov spoke about torture, his speech published human rights project “Viasna”, The Insider quotes:
My name is Stepan Latypov. I live in a 1 ** apartment, house no. * Smorgovsky tract. For me, this is the best place on earth. This is my homeland. This is the place of my power. This is my dream come true. The dream of a house where you can live, get together with your neighbors, where you can, as we got in the village back in the distant 80s in the Soviet Union, calmly go to dinner with a neighbor without warning, just because you want to eat and did not have time cook. Where all conflicts are resolved together, peacefully, without any aggression. I was happy to live in this place. I was filled with happiness, joy, and it invigorated me and at times even brought some kind of euphoria. But the happiness did not last long.
On September 15, 2020, masked men took me into a minibus. We pulled our hands behind our backs, put a garbage bag on our heads and took us to … the Peoples’ Friendship Park. On the way, I was twice transferred from bus to bus. But this was my area and I know every turn there. Then they beat me, turned on the radio at full volume and started beating me. I’ve never been so scared in my life. The masked people beat them with their hands, feet, and truncheons. All in bulk and one at a time. They twisted their arms and legs behind their backs, “swallow”, beat them with their fists and palms on the ears so that a grenade would explode in my head. They beat me on the buttocks with a truncheon, beat them so that no bruises remained. But I could not lean for another three weeks. Recently I heard such a term “intermuscular hemotoma”, perhaps it was she. I screamed, suffocating in a black bag, and they laughed. They said: “Learning the alphabet.” Now we ask the letter “Aaaa” and start learning “B”. They said: “Don’t shout, your Tikhanovskaya won’t hear.” But I kept screaming. I shouted and thought: it’s very good that they took me, few of our neighbors in Belarus can stand it.
When it was especially painful, I remembered the words of my mother, she taught me to say to myself: “I am a little, little hedgehog, it doesn’t hurt at all.” And this helped me for a moment. But they [силовики] very experienced, I was constantly called by name, and I could not turn off in any way.
Then there was a search and interrogations at the Investigative Committee. If it had not been for a run with the neighbors that day, I would have agreed with all the accusations of masked people: riots, chemical attacks, and anything else. Not a single bruise was on me, not even the plastic ties left any marks, only a rumor of horror. And I started to get scared. It’s crazy to be afraid that masked people can do anything else that they please. Not even for business, but just for fun, and no one will stop them.
I read in the newspaper that I was kept in a punishment cell for 51 days in the pre-trial detention center, but this is not so. For 51 days I asked to be sent to a punishment cell. Every morning and evening check-up, I asked why I was being held in such conditions, and they averted their eyes and said: “We sympathize with humanity, but we cannot do anything.” They asked me to hold on. Thanks to their understanding, for those little indulgences that made my life easier, I apologize to the employees of the pre-trial detention center, because I know that they will have trouble for saying this now, and people in masks are hiding again. I remember and sympathize with everyone who testified at the GUBOP.
The horror that I have experienced justifies a lot. After all, when fear for oneself ends, fear for loved ones begins. The masked man came after the operation. It seemed to me that he spoke for several hours – it was only threats and insults. I know that I can’t do anything about it and I can’t even completely free myself from fear, but I can at least try not to be afraid.
In passing judgment, the High Court, I want you to have an idea of the methods used to collect evidence and obtain confessions. My name is Stepan Latypov. On June 1, 2021, in the courtroom of the Soviet District, I cut my throat with a ballpoint pen. This fact has been confirmed by dozens of witnesses. Some of them are my friends, relatives, employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, prosecutors and courts. This was reported on state and non-state TV channels. There are at least three official documents on this matter with my own handwritten signature. There is a video recording where I tell everything in detail, and even an ORM-wiretapping in the cell, where I myself, personally and with a friend, with a giggle and loud obscenities, narrate this circumstance
The shard of the handle cannot cut the neck. It is impossible for them to even cut off a lemon, this is obvious to anyone. But the investigation urgently needed a picture of a spontaneous emotional act. I really wanted to sleep after anesthesia. On the third sleepless day, I agreed to anything.
I began to prepare for suicide immediately after that interrogation. For each interrogation, for each meeting with a lawyer, I took a small piece of foil, choosing the shape and size so that they could not be detected by the convoy. A recidivist killer for a packet of coffee spoke in detail about the search, and a professional pickpocket taught how to hide a blade. Later I was advised to wrap the metal with a piece of plaster so that it does not slip on my fingers. I simply pasted the plaster on a folder with documents and wrote on it with a pen. Then I pasted it on my jacket, it didn’t bother anyone. As well as nobody was embarrassed by the fact that for the entire first half of the meeting I wove a gag, which I needed to leave with dignity, without screaming in pain. It was painful. Insanely painful and scary. The goal was to cut at least one of the carotid arteries. It was not possible to cut it on the left side, but on the right, thanks to the slope to the left, it was possible to cut it … And I felt warmth with my fingers. I even managed to hook the artery, but out of excitement I pulled further, instead of going deeper along the trachea …
Then the guard pulled on the leg, I hit my head and fell. It was painful, scary and very ashamed. It’s a shame, because the attempt failed. And the fact that there are many ways to protect your loved ones and neighbors, which I did not see at that moment.
I would like to believe that in passing the verdict the High Court will be guided by logic, common sense, everyday experience, knowledge of the school curriculum. Realizing that sometimes the investigation does not fully strive to see the truth …
I don’t know what will happen next. I do not know what the verdict will be, how long I will actually be in prison. As practice has shown, everything is not in the hands of the judge, and not even in mine, and not in each of us. But I wanted to say one thing: no matter what I was, I am what I am, and I love you all very much. And I can’t do it any other way. I will protect you as best I can … I believe that it is my duty. And I believe that there is no other way.
Your Honor, I talk a lot about everything and everyone, but not about myself, and about what I expect for myself. It is not so important for me what you say, but how you say it. I strive very much to see in you not a judge, but a person, a citizen, a professional in his field. This will help me just not to hate you and treat you with understanding, understanding as a person who is, perhaps, in a difficult situation.
Stepan Latypov is 40 years old. He was born in the Brest region, studied at a Belarusian school. Parents are biologists. Stepan is an arborist by profession, as well as an industrial climber of the fifth grade.
Latypov lives in Minsk on Smorgovsky tract, where a mural was installed in honor of the DJs who played Tsoi’s song “Change” during the protests. For protecting this mural, Latypov was detained in September 2020. He is accused of organizing riots.
The prosecutor requested 8.5 years in prison for Stepan Latypov.
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