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Railroad war case leaves questions unanswered

Dzianis Dzikun / photo from personal archive

In early March, Dzmitry Dzikun found out that someone was detained in Svetlahorsk, not far from the houses where his relatives live. He opened a pro-state telegram channel and saw there a "repentant video" of his brother, Dzianis.

Dzianis had been beaten. His eye was swollen. When Dmitry talked to him the day before, he did not have a scratch.

Dzianis Dzikun / screenshot from the "repentant video"

Dzmitry contacted Euroradio to tell us about his brother.

"He always had a positive attitude, loved sports a lot"

"We have the most ordinary family. My father is a driver. Mom is a pensioner, she has a disability. My brother Dzianis has always been very positive. He played football. He likes sports very much. He has always been an achiever. I was surprised that my brother was detained. And that they detained him so harshly.

I talked to him the night before. I saw he was all right. He didn't have a scratch on him. And the repentant video clearly showed signs of beatings. I know that they continued to beat and torture them in the police station.

There were five people detained that day in Svetlahorsk. They all came from the same family. Together with Dzianis, police detained his girlfriend Alisa and her father Aleg Malchanau. Dzianis's sister and her husband, Dzmitry and Natalia Ravich, were also detained. Natalia and Alisa were later released.

The detained Svetlahorsk citizens are suspected of involvement in the "rail war". The Interior Ministry believes that on the evening of February 28, they doused the relay cabinet of the alarm system with a flammable mixture and set it on fire. The equipment burned out. They were prosecuted for an act of terrorism.

Dzianis Dzikun / photo from the Euroradio archive

Is the burnt cabinet dangerous for passengers' lives?

If this equipment is put out of order, the train won't derail, but it may take several hours to repair it. Or several days.

Euroradio has already written about signaling control cabinets. When such a cabinet burns out from the inside, the dispatcher sees that something abnormal is going on at the station, and sends an electrician there. He arrives, reports the situation, and starts repairing the gear.

The traffic in such a case is completely stopped until a special order is given. The traffic is cut -- military echelons move more slowly towards Ukraine.

One of such cabinets was burned on the Astankovichy - Zherdz line of the Homel department of the Belarusian Railways. This line is part of the line built during World War I. It was supposed to be the shortest route for the military echelons that were going to Ukraine. 

"I think they just wanted to help"

Dzmitry left Belarus in 2021, as he had actively participated in the protests. His brother Dzianis, who is now accused of committing an act of terrorism, did not go to the rallies.

Dzianis's lawyer is under a non-disclosure agreement, he does not talk.

"I only know that the conditions are "more or less fine".

Dzianis Dikun / photo from the Euroradio's archive

The family needs help to pay the bill for material damages. Dzmitry pays for his brother's lawyer.

If it were possible to write a letter from abroad and know for sure that it would get into his brother's hands, Dzmitry would write like this:

"Dzianis, three months have passed. This is still very hard for me to accept.

The initiative of the Belarusian parliament, which has already adopted in two readings an amendment introducing the death penalty for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, is the hardest to perceive. Parliamentarians first came up with such an initiative when Dzmitry's brother had already been detained.

It's hard to realize that it may come to this. We hope that it will not happen. We hope for the best.

I believe they only wanted to help Ukraine. I'm not going to comment on the war. We all understand that this is just an attack".

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