Support for Olga Stepanenko, who was injured during a riot police invasion of a nightclub

  • Story

On the night of November 5 to 6 at a party at the Hide club in Minsk, when I was celebrating my birthday, the riot police broke in and raided the place (looking for drugs + checking everyone's phones). During that raid, I had a third of my finger torn off and ended up in the hospital, where I had my nail phalanx amputated.

I don't remember exactly how it happened, but after the riot police ran in stiffly, waving their arms and yelling for everyone to get down on the floor, I saw my injury. A torn part in the fingernail area (there was no part of the phalanx with the nail), a lot of blood came out of the wound. There were a lot of people around and it was dark. I was in shock. Most likely I had just been stepped on by a boot as I lay face down on the floor, leaning on it with my hands.

At night in the ambulance the riot police took my details. In the morning after the hospital I came home, after which two policemen came to me. They told me to go with them to the police department. During the ride they took my phone to check. At the police department they described and took my things. Nothing illegal was found in my phone, but they put me behind bars at the police department until they found out what was going on.

Before that at the hospital they most likely classified it as a criminal act on the part of the OMON. When I was at the police department and they'd already put me behind bars, the investigator came and said they'd received a message from the hospital and that we needed to sort things out. At that moment I understood everything and said I had no claims against OMON. But even after that they drew up a report on me under Article 19.1 for “disorderly conduct” and sent me to Okrestin. 

Okrestin had a court session via Skype and they gave me 15 days in jail. When I was in jail a policewoman came to me with another protocol about allegedly false summons: saying that my words from the hospital and the words of the investigator were at variance. I once again said that I had no claims, because I was intimidated. She, in turn, just gave me a warning and closed the case of the false summons.

During my arrest, I was denied a finger dressing almost every time I asked (only did it once). I should have had my tetanus shot checked so I wouldn't get infected, but they didn't do that. As it turned out later, I had just expired of this vaccination and needed it urgently for prophylaxis.

Our cell was overcrowded (14 people in a 4-bed room), we slept on the floor without mattresses or blankets, they didn't turn off the lights, they woke us up a couple of times a night, they rarely gave us soap or toilet paper. They said, “You are here to suffer. My relatives were not told where I was and what was wrong with me. Some policeman even said that people like me were on a "bad list" and that I would be controlled. During the detention someone else came up to me and asked about what happened, asking about the rallies and whether I took part in them. I have one protocol for 2020 (I was given a fine then, I paid it).

When I got out of jail, I was contacted by an investigator on the case. A criminal case was opened, where I was considered a victim. But I wrote a waiver, given that I was being intimidated all the time. In the end he advised me to leave the country, he said that there could be problems with this case, plus the country is actively processing cameras for facial recognition, and if they find my face at rallies, it will be criminal and "chemistry. And there were a lot of such rallies. I felt that I was not safe in Belarus. They can come at any moment, as it was with the girls I was sitting with (imprisoned for commenting and reposting). Plus, it was still scary with this case.

In December, I was helped by the Belarus House in Warsaw with getting my visa opened. January 3 Polish Consulate gave me a humanitarian visa. Now I'm already in Poland, but at the moment I have very little money with me. I turned out to be unprepared for such events, I don't have enough savings for the first time, I don't know Polish yet.

It took a lot of energy and now I am asking for help in the beginning (for rent and food) while I deal with my job, learn Polish and slowly come to my senses.

How much is needed?

2000€ — 3 months rent of a room (including deposit); food.

The collection is over. Сollected:
€ 2 007
The collection is over. Сollected: € 2 007