MOSCOW — An opposition activist in Belarus stabbed himself within 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 carry him. Onlookers may very well be heard screaming within the footage, taken contained in the courtroom within 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 an announcement from the nation’s Well being 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 within the nation.
Mr. Latypov was one of many many opposition activists who emerged in the course of the wave of huge protests that swept by Belarus within the aftermath of the presidential election final August. Mr. Lukashenko claimed an awesome victory in that contest however the outcomes had been extensively dismissed as fraudulent and had been rejected by the European Union.
- Belarus within the highlight. The compelled touchdown of a business flight on Sunday, is being seen by a number of international locations as a state hijacking referred to as for by its strongman president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
- Election outcomes and protest. It got here lower than a 12 months after Belarusians had been met with a violent police crackdown after they protested the outcomes of an election that many Western governments derided as a sham.
- Compelled aircraft touchdown. The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was diverted to Minsk with the aim of detaining Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old dissident journalist.
- Who’s Roman Protasevich? In a video launched by the federal government, Mr. Protasevich confessed to participating in organizing “mass unrest” final 12 months, however pals say the confession was made beneath duress.
Indignant with the official outcomes, Mr. Latypov helped set up a makeshift protest mural within 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.
Throughout Tuesday’s court docket listening to, Mr. Latypov mentioned that members of an elite Belarusian police unit got here to him and informed him that until he pleaded responsible he would face a “torture cell and felony instances towards kin and neighbors,” in line with Viasna, a Belarusian human rights group that was monitoring the trial.
“I used to be in a torture cell for 51 days,” Mr. Latypov informed his father within the courtroom, earlier than stabbing himself.
Mr. Latypov is certainly one of 454 political prisoners at the moment being held by the nation’s legislation enforcement, in line with an inventory compiled by Viasna. Greater than 32,000 individuals had been arrested over the course of the protests, with lots of of them saying they had been tortured whereas in custody.
As much as 200,000 individuals took half in protest rallies at their peak in August and September, many believing that Mr. Lukashenko’s departure was sure and imminent.
However backed by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and utilizing power 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 willpower to make use of no matter means essential to crack down on dissent, many Belarussians began to flee the nation.
Leaving turned tougher, nonetheless, after the European Union banned Belarusian planes from its air area as a part of the response to Mr. Lukashenko’s compelled diversion of the Ryanair flight carrying Mr. Protasevich, which European officers described as a state hijacking.
On Tuesday, the Belarusian authorities made leaving even tougher but. The border guard service mentioned in an announcement that solely individuals with a everlasting residence allow in another country can be allowed to depart.