The Novopoltsky colony of the strengthened regime No. 1 is called the dirtiest from the ecological point of view and the most brutal in terms of the regime. Viktor Babarika and other well-known political prisoners are currently held there.

The history of Novopoltsk correctional colony No. 1 of the enhanced regime is directly connected with the history of the city itself. In 1958, near Polatsk, they decided to build a large industrial complex - the Navapolatsk Oil Refinery. It was announced about the All-Union Strike Komsomol Construction. Next to the buildings of the oil refinery, "Komsamol volunteers" built temporary housing for themselves - barracks. Later they were turned into penal colony No. 10, it was called "ten".

Homiel, June 2021. Trial of bloggers and politicians. In the cage, Ihar Losik and Siarhei Tsikhanovsky stand facing forward

Life according to "Varov's laws"

The main contingent of the zone in those days were ferocious criminals, members of the so-called organized crime groups (ORGs), convicted of particularly serious crimes: robberies and murders. In 2009, 2,032 people were sentenced there, against the norm of 1,500. 21% — for intentional murders, 24% — for robberies and grievous bodily harm. The average prison sentence was 9.2 years.

"Ten" was considered a so-called "black zone", which lived according to "concepts", where "watchmen" and "thieves in law" ruled, such as a native of Georgia, who led an organized criminal group in Brest,

Vaho Khobskyi

and others (one of them was in colonies and killed). Recidivists from other colonies were brought to Novopoltsak, they always ruled their own," recalls the then inmate, recidivist thief Mikalai (name changed. — RS), who served a total of about 20 years and "served time" in three correctional colonies of Belarus.

After the events of 2010, for the first time political prisoners were included in the Novopolat "ten": former presidential candidate

Andrey Sannikov

, anarchist

Igor Alinevich, Nikita Likhavid, Ales Kirkevich.

The latter wrote the book "Seven Months in a Belarusian Prison" about his time in prison and in 2013 received the

Franziska Alyakhnovich Literary Award.

SEE ALSO: How an elite colony for former officials and security forces turns into a political prison. History of "Vitby-3"

In 2014, the colony was disbanded and turned into a treatment and labor ward (LPP No. 8), where alcoholics were forcibly treated, using their slave labor in harmful industries. However, this did not last long, already in 2017, "in order to optimize the criminal-executive system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs", the institution was returned to the status of a correctional colony, assigning number 1. Previously, it belonged to the colony on Kalvariyskaya Street in the center of Minsk, which was closed.

After 2020, a number of well-known opponents of the regime were transferred to Novopolotsk Colony No. 1 to serve their sentences. Viktar Babarika, the cousin of politician Pavel Latushka Anatoly, journalists Andrey Alexandrov, Igor Losik, Andrey Kuznechyk, Andrzej Pachobut, and media manager Konstantin Zalatykh are held here. And former KGB employee Aleksey Khralovich and former military man Denis Urada were recently transferred from this colony to Mogilev Covered Prison No. 4.

Andrzej Pachobut trial, January 2023

incom mode

Viktar Babarika,

a former opponent of Lukashenka in the 2020 presidential elections,

was sentenced to 14 years in prison. There is no connection with him after April 2023; most likely, Babaryka is in a chamber-type room. Other convicts are forbidden to contact him, they do not take him to work. According to a number of reports, in April of last year, Viktar Babaryka was severely beaten and hospitalized in Navapolat.

Svoboda journalist

Ihar Losik

, sentenced to 15 years, is also serving his sentence in the PKT. There has been no contact with him since February 20, 2023 (then the parents received the last letter from their son). Correspondence, transfers, meetings with him are prohibited. Ihar cannot even use the so-called "atavarka" for one base - all the funds from his account are written off allegedly to repay the debt.

Journalist Andrzej Pachobut, who was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment, was recently placed in the SHIZA.

"For 8 months, he didn't have a single meeting, a single call, a single show, not even with things. They are taking away absolutely everything," his wife Oksana wrote on Facebook.

Blogger Aleksandar Kabanov spent more than a year in prison No. 1, who served his entire sentence and was recently released.

Viktor Babaryka at his trial, July 2021

"The colony is a SHIZA, from which I did not get out. Any politician in the colony is made a malicious violator of the regime... They come to you and say: "Your button is unbuttoned and you didn't say hello, you will be prosecuted." Then they come and say: "Your bedside table is not cleaned, there will be an act." The third time they come: "You don't have 2,000 cigarettes, but 2,000 and one - there will be an act." That's it, you're an angry violator of the regime. And you suddenly become especially dangerous... After five days in the colony, I already had five acts on me and one of them made me wash the toilets. Toilets in the colony are cleaned by people of low social status. If you go to such, you automatically become a person with a low status. This is one of the instruments of pressure on prisoners. Naturally, I refuse and end up in SHIZA alone for 30 days. At five o'clock in the morning we get up, and at six o'clock - breakfast, at eleven o'clock - lunch, and at four o'clock - dinner. And that's it,"

Aleksandar Kabanov told Svaboda.

SEE ALSO: "Tsikhanovskaya asked to inform the media that she is withdrawing from the elections. I refused." A long conversation with former political prisoner and blogger Kabanov

Reports of death and torture

At the beginning of 2021, it became known about the deaths of several convicts who were serving their sentences in Navopolatsk - 25-year-old Andrei Dubik and 27-year-old Aleksei Zhuk. Dubyk, convicted of selling drugs, died in prison. The prison doctor informed the family that their son had committed suicide.

"One person had AIDS and cancer, he died. The second death, I believe, is at the hands of the administration. There was a prisoner who lost his health, primarily mental, in the colony. He had problems with his head. In order not to deal with him, he was locked up in SHIZA. He wasn't too dark anymore, so he slept on the concrete floor and caught pneumonia. He was taken to the district hospital, but could not be saved. If he had not been thrown into SHIZA, he would have survived," recalls former resident of the colony



According to the information of human rights defenders, prisoners often report cases of torture in SHIZA and PKT, which were allegedly personally managed by the former head of the colony, Lt. Col. Andrey Palchyk.

At the end of March 2023, human rights activists learned that political prisoner Ihar Losik, who has been in PKT for almost a year, tried to physically harm himself. Then Igor was sent to SHIZA. There he went on a hunger strike for a long time, and then cut his hands and neck.

Ex-political prisoner Alyaksandr Kabanov, who was sent to a penal institution three times, tried to commit suicide in the SHIZA colony. According to him, the last time the conditions in the cell were so unbearable that he could not stand it and cut his veins with a razor. Kabanav received 68 stitches in the hospital.

In 2021,

the Russian

Mykolai Khrol,

sentenced to 6 years, was severely beaten, his collarbone was broken and he was not treated. As a result, the clavicle is not fused and rests on the throat, and the right hand is unable to work. At the same time, the prisoner was forced to drag logs.

According to a former inmate of the colony, its prisoner Vitaliy Malakhovsky opened the veins three times with the help of a metal spoon. In this way he protested against the pranks of the administration.

SEE ALSO: Human rights defenders reported that there was an outbreak of influenza in the Novopoltsk colony

"New Year's Express"

The administration of the Navapolat colony has its own traditions. One of them is the "New Year's Express", said ex-prisoner Alyaksei.

"On New Year's, SHIZA cells are filled to 100%, there are about 80 places there. At normal times, the occupancy of the cells there is 20-30%. I consider their tradition a form of torture. After all, many people are waiting, even in the colony, for the New Year, trying to celebrate it somehow. Right here, people are being thrown into the SHIZA for the most far-fetched reasons," he says.

The interlocutor says that the most terrible cell for prisoners in SHIZA is No. 13. It is much colder there than in others.

"Chlorine is poured there more, supposedly for disinfection. But this is more for mockery. One escort poured chlorine into the cell with the words: "Happy New Year!", says the former prisoner. During the years of his stay in the colony, Alyaksei concluded that those who end up in cell No. 13 on New Year's Day will definitely be transferred to the "closed prison" later.

VK-1 had a rather rich and diverse library -

Andrei Kuznechyk

often wrote about this in his letters , who found a lot of literature and periodicals in the Belarusian language there. From the fall of 2023, Belarusian books, as well as books in foreign languages, began to be removed from the library.

Sewing industry in Hlybotka colony

The dirtiest

Correctional colony No. 1 is located at 8 Technichnaya street, in the Industrial district of Navopolatsk. It is surrounded on all sides by pipes and dumps of large chemical enterprises - "Naftan" and "Polymir". In addition, most of the productions in the so-called "industrial zone" are harmful, with difficult working conditions.

Burning charcoal is called the most harmful work of prisoners. Prisoners burn wood in metal barrels without access to oxygen, they breathe smoke, soot eats into their skin. Viktar Babarika was transferred to this job in November 2022, he had to work 9 hours, 6 days a week. He was on the street without access to a household, lifting weights, despite contraindications due to his health, reported the imprisoned politician's Telegram channel at the time.

Prior to that, Viktor Babaryka worked as a stoker in a bakery, stacking bakery products and had to be in a room without ventilation all the time, where the air temperature was above +30. Special teams were selected for him, which included only people "vetted" by the administration, who cooperated with the prison guards.

Another harmful production is obtaining copper from old cables and wires brought from telecommunication enterprises. Cables should be stripped of insulation and the metal core should be removed. It is not allowed to smoke the braid, but sometimes it is smoked secretly at night so that the black smoke is not visible. The site is in a large workshop where it is very cold in winter. Of the tools, there is only a special knife with a stamp, each one has its own. Gloves and filters are not issued.

Sorting through plastic pellets, sorting bags and making plastic wrap is also harmful work. Garbage bags are brought to the colony in large bales. Prisoners throw out the leftover food from the bags and remove the stickers so that no foreign particles remain in the plastic. There is a terrible stench on the site.

Convicts sift through plastic pellets at a special table - they sort a mixture of small black and white "beads" by color. According to them, this work is boring and monotonous. The room is very stuffy. Prisoners are given milk for harming the production of polyethylene film and sorting through plastic pellets.

At the woodworking plant, firewood is cut, pallets are made, and sawdust is removed. The work is physically demanding, the whole day outside. Svoboda journalist Andrei Kuznechyk works at woodworking - 6 days a week, like all political workers.

There is also a sewing factory in Navopolatsk: prisoners sew work clothes, sweatshirts, and special clothing. Recently, there was a large order for several thousand vests for the military. This work is considered a little easier, and the conditions are better - people work indoors.

Hard work in the canteen as well: rising at 4 in the morning, finishing at 9 p.m.

According to former inmates and human rights defenders, ordinary "criminal" prisoners in the Navapolat colony work 3 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Political" workers have a six-day working day and only one day off on Sunday. Sometimes political prisoners are brought to work even on holidays.

Canteen in the Vitebsk penal colony

The head of the administration grew up in the same yard as Igor Losik

From 2017 to March 2023, the colony was managed by lieutenant colonel

Andrey Palchyk

. He was born on March 3, 1981 in Baranavichy. As a child, Svoboda journalist Ihar Losik, a political prisoner, lived in the same house as Palchyk - in the Northern district of Baranavichy, at 33 Nakanechnikov Street.

According to information from the organization of former security forces BelPol, Palchyk had many reprimands and disciplinary sanctions during his service. In 2013, he was reprimanded for "engaging in a relationship with the convicted P". In 2016, Palchyk was given an official reprimand, in 2019 he was again reprimanded for "improper performance of official duties".

In 2017, Palchyk lost his service card, he was issued a duplicate. On May 20, 2015, the then head of the colony received a fine for speeding. Palchyk is under EC sanctions.

The exact reason for Andrei Palchyk's dismissal is unknown, in 2023 he was sent to work as the head of a settlement colony, the so-called "chemistry". This can be considered a demotion.

According to ex-prisoner Aleksei, one of the reasons for Palchyk's dismissal was a YouTube video recorded by ex-prisoner Aleksandar Kabanov with another ex-prisoner.

"Apparently, the top management did not like the fact that it was not possible to hide the facts of bullying and torture, so this could be one of the reasons why Palchyk was removed," said Alyaksei in a recent interview with Svaboda.

SEE ALSO: "Prisoners saw him through the window with a bandaged head." A former inmate of the Navapolat colony told about Viktar Babarika

Another reason for the dismissal could be a criminal case against an employee of the Petrov colony, who beat an ordinary prisoner and later received a sentence.

After Palchyk, Vyacheslav Zhurko was appointed as the temporary acting head of the colony (previously he was a deputy in operative and regime work. — RS). However, he was not approved for the post. It was with him that in April 2024, an incident took place with Viktar Babaryk, who was taken from the colony to the Novopolotsk hospital with physical injuries. At the beginning of May 2023, Ruslana Mashadiyev was appointed head of the colony.

"If Palchyk liked to make fun of people, then Mashadiev does everything he is assigned without emotion. Something has gotten better, something has gotten worse, but overall it's a little better after Palchyk, the rules of the game have become more transparent for us," says the former prisoner.

According to BelPol,

Ruslan Mashadiev

was born on September 26, 1981. He started his career as the head of the department of the colony No. 10, worked in the LPP-8 in the same position. In 2017, he was promoted to the deputy head of the colony, last year - to the head. He was married twice, Natalya's first wife also works in the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, he has a daughter, Karina. In his second marriage, Mashadiev had a son, Marat.

Until 2019, the current head of the Navapolat colony visited Europe several times, visited Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. Now it is also under the sanctions of the European Union.

According to information from human rights organizations, about 150 police prisoners are currently being held in the Novopolotsk colony. This is one of the highest indicators among all institutions of the Department of Corrections of Belarus.

SEE ALSO: "One apple in three months." Why the political prisoner Stepan Latipov could get scurvy

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Criminal prosecution of Igor and Daria Losikov

In 2020, criminal cases were opened against Radio Svaboda journalist and blogger Ihar Losik according to Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code ("preparation for violation of public order") and Part 2 of Art. 293 ("preparation for participation in mass riots").

Losik was detained on June 25, 2020 after a house search in Baranavichy. At that time, 167,000 people were subscribed to his Telegram channel "RB Brain".

Ihar Losik actively covered the events of the presidential elections of Belarus. Human rights activists recognized him as a political prisoner.

On December 15, 2020, after the second indictment, Igor Losik announced a protest hunger strike and held it until January 25, 2021.

On March 11, 2021, Losik was charged with a new charge. As a sign of protest, Igor injured his wrist in front of the lawyer and the investigator, and also announced a dry hunger strike. For this, Losik was placed in the cell of Zhodzin remand prison. He stayed there for five days, four of which he was on a dry hunger strike.

  • On December 14, 2021, Judge

    Mikalai Dolya

    sentenced Ihar Losik

    to 15 years in prison at the SIZA-3 building in Gomli.

    He was found guilty under two articles of the Criminal Code - "Inciting social enmity and enmity towards representatives of the authorities and law enforcement agencies, committed by a group of persons" (part 3 of article 130) and "Organization of mass riots, which were accompanied by pogroms, arson, destruction of property and armed resistance to representatives of the authorities" (Part 1 of Article 293).

  • Daria,

    the wife of Igor Losik,

    was sentenced to

    2 years of imprisonment

    in a general regime colony (according to Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code, "Facilitating extremist activities") for an interview about her husband, in which, according to the indictment, she "positioned herself as the wife of a political prisoner." Daria Losik was sentenced on January 19, 2023 by the judge of the Brest Regional Court

    Mykola Grigarovich.