“Our House” has in its hands truly unique information that will undoubtedly become evidence in dozens of criminal cases. We managed to establish trusting relationships with people experiencing arbitrariness and lawlessness in an institution that is a nightmarish relic of the Soviet dictatorship – OTC. These institutions no longer survive in any country in the world, except Belarus, Turkmenistan and unrecognised Transnistria.
For people with little interest in such institutions, the OTC appears to be a kind of “high-security health resort”, where people suffering from alcoholism are treated so that they can return to society free of their vice.
Believe me, this is far from true. Practically anyone who does not please the present Belarusian occupation authorities can end up in an OTC. You don’t have to be an alcoholic for this. We will return to this issue in more detail in our article.
Since the information came to us precisely in the form of letters from there, we will try to “dilute” the text with the author’s comments as little as possible for the sake of realism. It is not necessary though: the unfortunate letter-writers have done a fine job of describing the realities of the nightmare in which they live.
We cannot release their names today because many of them are still in OTCs to this day and the management of this inhumane organisation could retaliate harshly against them. But we know everyone’s name and we are sure that these people would gladly testify in many criminal cases involving lawlessness in such facilities.
In the first part of our series, we will look at how people are actually “treated” in OTCs and how difficult it is to get real, humane medical treatment there.
So, OTC No. 5, Novogrudok, Grodno region. Our days.
“In the ordinary person’s mind, an OTC is a kind of treatment facility with medical staff that provides assistance to alcoholics and drug addicts. In reality, it is a legalised people reprocessing factory.
It is a huge area, fenced around the perimeter with a 4-metre long blind fence with barbed wire and an alarm system. The perimeter of this fence is lined with watchtowers. The fence is followed by a strip of sand all around the perimeter, which, if there is no snow, is raked up with a rake to make footprints visible in case someone tries to escape. After the strip, there is again a fence with a wire on top, but lower. Then again the strip and again the fence around the perimeter.
On the territory there is a headquarters building, a quarantine, a bathhouse, a boiler room, a canteen, as well as buildings where the “sick” are located. Although the most appropriate word is prisoners. The buildings of the industrial zone, where citizens are forced to work, stand separately. Precisely, they are being forced. There are 10 such units. As of today, the total number of people is about 800″.
- Referral to an OTC
Some might say that getting into an OTC takes a lot of “effort”. Let’s listen to our hero: how fast and how illegal it is.
“Before the trial, anyone whom the authorities want to send to an OTC is first registered with a specialist in narcology The registration process is about the same for everyone – in order to be registered, you have to go through a number of doctors, and then the narcologist has to determine the degree of alcoholism.
When I was brought in to be registered, the narcologist, after looking at me and talking to me, refused to put me on the register. The district police officer asked me to leave the office. Five minutes later I was called back and told that from now on I am an alcohol dependent and on the register.
About 70% of people get registered in this way. The commission is not particularly interested in your state of health, they mark you “healthy”, and the narcologist determines that you are sick and determines the extent of your addiction. So the marking ‘sick’ by the narcologist is your pass to the OTC, and the marking ‘healthy’ by other doctors is your pass to the industrial zone, where you will be forced to work”.
Everyone is “dirty” and everything is “covered”. Sad but not surprising.
“There are people here now who shouldn’t be here at all. One person has a certificate stating that he cannot stay in the OTC for health reasons. But the whole paradox is here.
The senior district officer took his certificate before sending him away, and the man can do nothing, being already in the OTC. It turned out that the son-in-law of this senior district officer is in higher circles, close to the leader of our country, and he is taking advantage of the opportunity, trying to score as much as possible points in order to climb up the career ladder”.
Newly arrived people go to the quarantine zone for at least 14 days. The inmates themselves tell us about the inhumane conditions in which people are immediately placed.
“It was cold in the room, almost everyone walked and slept in jackets. I didn’t take off my jacket for two weeks – the whole quarantine. I got sick on the 3rd day. I had a stuffy ear and a sore throat, but everyone made it clear that there was no point in asking to see a doctor. So I lay there for a few days, with fever and chills. People were coughing one by one. And it’s not clear who has what kind of illnesses.”
“There were 63 people with me in quarantine. They were brought in February from different regions and cities. They were surprised that I was brought in separately. People are all different. There are those who have been convicted and those who have not. There are those who have been in OTC for 4-5 times, and some who have been in OTC for the first time. There are those who should not be here at all for health reasons. They all have different fates, but their story is almost the same – the commission is passed for them by district police officers, doctors mark them “healthy”, without even talking to or seeing the patient. Result – OTC”
“But they say we are still lucky in quarantine now, even though we got caught in severe frost. In 2018, people from quarantine were banned from the building immediately after the morning check. In cold weather they just stood on the street. They only rushed them inside during breakfast, lunch and dinner for 15-20 minutes – and then kicked them out again before the evening check at 9pm. Thus people were tortured in quarantine for 14 days.”
“We were all given sheets on which it was written that we were sick and that we would be given psychological and psychiatric help. Of course, there was no mention of what these drugs were, let alone what their side effects were. Signing was compulsory because refusal to sign deprives one of his parole.
Everyone in the quarantine knew that I was “political”, and those who had been here not for the first time sideways glance at me. They said they had never signed such a thing and asked if it had anything to do with me. But how can I know? We all signed”.
“And about the fight against COVID. Don’t forget that this is a medical facility, and in the headquarters and sanitary unit you should only enter wearing a mask. The administration simply does not have them for issue, there is nowhere to get them, so people use the ones they are brought here in. If someone needs to go to the medical unit or to headquarters, they ask others. They go and return.
Masks are not thrown away. They are washed with soap under cold water and used again. There are those who have had one mask with him all the time. It’s horrible!”
- The actual lack of qualified medical care
The abbreviation “OTC”, as you know, our dear readers, means “The occupational therapy centre”.
We do not know how it is in Turkmenistan and Moldova’s unrecognised Transnistria, but in Belarus the word “therapeutic” can safely be thrown out of the acronym. The evidence of this is the testimony of eyewitnesses suffering from the lack of medical assistance.
“The sanitary unit is run by A.M. Boyko, who is the head physician. I have certain health problems and now, after almost two months, the doctors can’t work out what.
I have a “cutting” type of pain in the front on the left side under my ribs, which is frequent. And also a pulling pain in the back of the left kidney area.
The procedure is like this – although you are in a ‘treatment’ facility, you have to make an appointment to see a GP in advance. If something hurts you, no one will come to you. I was just given No-Shpa for the pain. A little time passed, and due to my complaints I again got an appointment with a therapist. To my misfortune – again to her. At my second appointment she said that the head doctor had already diagnosed me with a dermoid cyst. It turns out that they got the report of my five-year-old CT scan, which said: There is a heterogeneous mass in the area of the left kidney. I started to argue that they can’t make an opinion based on an old CT scan. They need to do a repeat and then refer me to the right specialist. To which Zhanna Leonidovna told me that the talks were over, that the head doctor Boiko had already made a diagnosis, that my cyst was “good” – that was exactly her answer, and that I should have graduated from medical school. And, if I do not want problems (because she will call the controllers), then I must leave the office. Only when my lawyer got involved and my wife started to call the institutions, the management freaked out and referred me to a urologist in Novogrudok, 25 km away from the OTC.
I could only get such an appointment once a week, on Tuesdays. The OTC controllers are traveling with you, they are also present at the reception, listening attentively. But the administration has the same relationship with doctors in Novogrudok as it does with the commission. Everything is tied up”.
To get a basic medical procedure, you have to involve: a lawyer, your wife, the prosecutor’s office and the hotline …
And here is what a person who needs not just an examination, but regular monitoring and treatment, has to say.
“I have only been taken once to see an infectious disease doctor in Novogrudok. The management of the OTC prudently removed blood tests and an immunogram from my medical records.
And when they brought me to an infectious disease doctor, he opened my medical records and, seeing nothing, said that he could not see the full picture of the disease and could not prescribe treatment, as there were no tests.
I replied that the tests should be in the file, that I had seen them in person. To which the infectious disease doctor showed a card with no tests. The OTC employee was also in the office, I saw how he looked away. I understood what had happened – after all, I should have been discharged with those diseases!”
“Took a blood test for CD-4, viral load 1800000 for August 2020. CD-4 has grown from 111 to 170 in six months . (Blood tests and indicators for HIV infection – Editor’s note) Ed.). Every month I lay in the sanitary unit of the OTC with viral diseases, while having chronic hepatitis B and C, 3rd tuberculosis, candidiasis, pneumonia (permanent), HIV for twenty-one years.
There is no medication in the OTC, complaints are not ignored, but they refer to COVID not to take me to doctors. And when the temperature rises, they immediately put me in the infirmary and don’t take me anywhere, citing the fever. There is no way to visit a specialist – the labs are either too busy with COVID, or the temperature is too high. Can’t get an immunogram. The only medications I get (and those are the cheapest) are silymarin, No-Shpa, omeprazole and antibiotics. There are no drugs for candidiasis.
Here’s my story, which once again proves how people get a doctors’ panel before being sent to OTC. In my case, the district police officer came in and received the certificates”.
Intentional failure to provide assistance to patients, negligence that can lead to fatal consequences and direct forgery of medical documents, which is also dangerous to human health. This is the stuff of a full-fledged criminal case under the especially grave articles of the criminal code.
- Suicide. Madness.
We feel it is our duty to warn that the events described below can cause severe psychological trauma to people who are mentally unstable, children under 16, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
It will be about the most gruesome thing in the dungeons of the OTC: the deaths and suicides of unfortunate and disenfranchised prisoners.
“People are maimed, driven to suicide. People leave here with disabilities in the literal sense, with injuries, with torn backs, people’s psyches are failing and they are being taken out of here to a psychiatric hospital”.
“Everyone tells me that when people are released from here, they weigh 10-15kg less than when they arrived. Not surprising. Nutrition, stress, hard work, etc.”
“My wife was coming to see me for a visit, it was a couple of hours before her arrival. I waited to be called.
But then I saw that the head of the OTCP had run towards Ward 7.
It turned out that the man had hanged himself. He has been taken down in time. He hung himself when his squad left for the canteen, but someone was late and saw and managed to call for help.
Immediately the chief ordered me to be removed from the area, knowing that my wife was coming. He was afraid that I would tell her about what was happening here”.
“There have already been five deaths in less than a year. The guy opened his veins, it turns out that he had three days left until his release. Didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, snapped. The man had two weeks left to go home. A nervous breakdown. Taken to a psychiatric hospital in Ostrovlje. The man who fell asleep in the unit – and didn’t wake up – was quarantined a couple of days ago. Naturally, they wrote there: “No complaints,” although he had health problems. Within a couple of days he had already died in the night in the unit. Such things happen here periodically”.
“Management is not always in a hurry to inform relatives about the death of their loved ones. Sometimes they are buried in the local cemetery. When relatives realise that something is wrong, they are informed that their husband or relative is buried that they could not notify due to some mistake. People say they do it to avoid finding out the true cause of death. After all, many should not be here because of their state of health”.
This is just the tip of a vile and fetid iceberg called “OTC of the Republic of Belarus”. Follow the publications on our website and we will tell you about the inhumane life of prisoners in OTCs, their slave labour and the corrupt schemes of the management of these institutions. They make their money by ruining the health and lives of people who cannot defend their rights.
ICCI “Our House” asks you to share this article in any way convenient for you. Criminals are most afraid of publicity, so let’s tell the whole of Belarus about what is happening in the center of Europe in the middle of the XXI century! In this way, we can help hundreds of people get through this terrible period of their lives and return home in good health.