Stepan Latypov, Belarus activist, stabs himself in neck on first day of trial on protest-related charges – CBS News

A Belarusian political activist stabbed himself in the neck on the first day of his trial Tuesday and was rushed to hospital, a rights group said. Following surgery, Stepan Latypov, 41, was returned to prison.

Stepan Latypov stands in Minsk, Belarus, September 15, 2020.
Stepan Latypov stands in Minsk, Belarus, September 15, 2020. Ulf Mauder/picture alliance via Getty Images

Latypov rammed what appeared to be a pen into his neck as his trial got underway on several protest-related charges during a hearing seen by government critics as part of a sweeping crackdown on political opposition.

The Viasna rights group, citing Latypov’s relatives, said Wednesday the activist was returned to prison and that family had been able to deliver him a parcel there.

Latypov was detained last September and went on trial in the capital of Minsk on several charges including creating protest symbols and resisting law enforcement.

Viasna said he appeared in court with bruises and that after his father was questioned Latypov climbed on a bench and stabbed himself in the neck.

“Stepan turned blue and lay down on the bench, an ambulance was called,” Viasna said.

Unconscious, he was taken out of the courtroom and hospitalized, Viasna said.

A still image taken from video footage shows Belarusian prisoner Stepan Latypov, who was arrested during a security crackdown on mass protests following a contested presidential election in 2020, being carried out of a court building after he stabbed hims
A still image taken from video footage shows Belarusian prisoner Stepan Latypov, who was arrested during a security crackdown on mass protests following a contested presidential election in 2020, being carried out of a court building after he stabbed himself in Minsk, Belarus, June 1, 2021. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Handout via Reuters TV

The Belarusian health ministry said Tuesday evening that Latypov had regained consciousness and his life was not in danger.

“All necessary medical measures have been taken,” the ministry said on its Telegram account.

“The patient is in a stable condition, there is no danger of death.”

Latypov had told his father he had come under pressure in detention, said Viasna, which along with other groups declared him a political prisoner last year.

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Prominent opposition politician Andrei Sannikov said it was an “act of desperation” and another demonstration of the “murderous nature” of President Alexander Lukashenko‘s regime.

Belarus was gripped by months of demonstrations that erupted after a disputed presidential election last August saw Lukashenko claim a sixth term.

Security forces cracked down hard on protests, detaining and imprisoning thousands of demonstrators and pushing opposition leaders into exile. Several people died in the unrest.

Another Belarusian political activist, 50-year-old Vitold Ashurok, died in jail in the eastern part of the country last month, reportedly of cardiac arrest.

Belarus has faced a global outcry after Lukashenko’s government ordered the diversion of a European flight over its airspace last month and arrested dissident Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend who were on board. Lukashenko insisted authorities had received a bomb threat from Switzerland and were only acting in the passengers’ interest.

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Stepan Latypov, Belarus activist, stabs himself in neck on first day of trial on protest-related charges – CBS News

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