An outbreak of Covid-19 has affected the prisons of Belarus , full of people arrested for protesting against the authoritarian president of the nation.
Some of the protesters who contracted the virus while incarcerated accused the authorities of negligence or causing the infections.
Activists who spoke to The Associated Press after their release commented that there are overcrowded cells without adequate ventilation or basic services, as well as a lack of medical care.
Kastus Lisetsky , a 35-year-old musician who received a 15-day sentence, said he was hospitalized with a high fever after eight days in prison. He was diagnosed with double pneumonia caused by Covid-19.
“Damp walls covered by parasites, the shocking lack of sanitary measures , the cold and a rusty bed, that’s what I had in Mogliev prison instead of medical assistance,” Lisetsky told AP.
“I had a fever and lost consciousness, and the guards had to call an ambulance,” he said. Lisetsky said that before he entered the prison, he and three colleagues were held in a Minsk jail and had to sleep on the floor. All four were infected with Covid-19.
Lisetsky will have to return to prison to serve the remaining seven days of his sentence after he is released from the hospital. He accused the government of allowing the virus to spread uncontrollably among those who are imprisoned for political reasons.
“The guards openly say they are doing it deliberately on orders,” Lisetsky said. They accuse “rigged” elections in Belarus
More than 30,000 people have been arrested for participating in protests against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in elections held in August.
Opposition activists and some poll workers say the elections “were rigged” to give Lukashenko a sixth term. The police have dispersed peaceful protests on several occasions with batons and stun grenades.
The alleged vote rigging and brutal measures surrounding the demonstrations have prompted the United States and the European Union to place sanctions on Belarusian officials.
So far, Belarus has reported more than 180,000 cases of Covid-19 , but many people in the former Soviet nation of 9.4 million people suspect that authorities have manipulated the figures to hide the scale of the outbreaks.