MOSCOW — An opposition activist in Belarus stabbed himself in the throat with a pen throughout a court docket listening to on Tuesday after claiming that investigators had threatened to prosecute his household and neighbors if he didn’t plead responsible.
A video clip recorded simply after the stabbing confirmed the activist, Stepan Latypov, mendacity on a bench inside a defendant’s cage with law enforcement officials attempting to elevate him. Onlookers might be heard screaming in the footage, taken contained in the courtroom in the capital, Minsk, by Nasha Niva, a information web site in Belarus.
Mr. Latypov, who was dealing with costs that included inciting social unrest, was later seen being carried out of the court docket constructing to an ambulance, his shirt marked with blood, in a video taken by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He was receiving therapy at a hospital and was in steady situation, in line with a press release from the nation’s Health Ministry.
The obvious suicide try comes amid more and more repressive efforts by President Alexander G. Lukashenko, the brutal and erratic longtime chief of Belarus, to stifle all dissent in the nation.
Mr. Latypov was one of many many opposition activists who emerged throughout the wave of monumental protests that swept by means of Belarus in the aftermath of the presidential election final August. Mr. Lukashenko claimed an amazing victory in that contest however the outcomes had been extensively dismissed as fraudulent and had been rejected by the European Union.
- Belarus in the highlight. The forced landing of a commercial flight on Sunday, is being seen by a number of nations as a state hijacking known as for by its strongman president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
- Election outcomes and protest. It got here lower than a yr after Belarusians had been met with a violent police crackdown once they protested the outcomes of an election that many Western governments derided as a sham.
- Forced aircraft touchdown. The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was diverted to Minsk with the purpose of detaining Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old dissident journalist.
- Who is Roman Protasevich? In a video launched by the federal government, Mr. Protasevich confessed to collaborating in organizing “mass unrest” final yr, however mates say the confession was made below duress.
Angry with the official outcomes, Mr. Latypov helped set up a makeshift protest mural in the courtyard of his house constructing in Minsk.
In September, law enforcement officials arrested Mr. Latypov as he tried to defend the mural towards their makes an attempt to destroy it. He was accused of resisting arrest, large-scale fraud and incitement of public unrest.
During Tuesday’s court docket listening to, Mr. Latypov mentioned that members of an elite Belarusian police unit got here to him and advised him that until he pleaded responsible he would face a “torture cell and criminal cases against relatives and neighbors,” in line with Viasna, a Belarusian human rights group that was monitoring the trial.
“I was in a torture cell for 51 days,” Mr. Latypov told his father in the courtroom, earlier than stabbing himself.
Mr. Latypov is one in all 454 political prisoners at present being held by the nation’s regulation enforcement, in line with a listing compiled by Viasna. More than 32,000 folks had been arrested over the course of the protests, with a whole bunch of them saying they had been tortured whereas in custody.
Up to 200,000 folks took part in protest rallies at their peak in August and September, many believing that Mr. Lukashenko’s departure was certain and imminent.
But backed by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and using force towards civilian demonstrators on a scale unseen in Europe for many years, Mr. Lukashenko managed to stifle the favored motion towards his rule.
Discouraged by Mr. Lukashenko’s dedication to make use of no matter means essential to crack down on dissent, many Belarussians began to flee the nation.
Leaving grew to become tougher, nonetheless, after the European Union banned Belarusian planes from its air house as a part of the response to Mr. Lukashenko’s pressured diversion of the Ryanair flight carrying Mr. Protasevich, which European officers described as a state hijacking.
On Tuesday, the Belarusian authorities made leaving even more durable but. The border guard service mentioned in a press release that solely folks with a everlasting residence allow in a international nation can be allowed to depart.