The Belarusian government has reportedly begun rounding up psychologists and pressuring them into snitching on clients opposed to the war in Ukraine.
White Robes, a group of Belarusian volunteer health care workers in exile, yesterday said it had received reports of an unusual surge in arrests of psychologists and psychiatrists.
At least 20 mental health professionals had been detained in recent days, most of them in the capital Minsk, the group said.
The detained healthcare psychologists were asked about their political views and pressured into breaking patient-doctor confidentiality to betray “unreliable” patients to the authorities, the spokesman said.
A woman in Minsk, who asked not to be identified, said that her relative, a psychologist, was detained at her home by KGB officers and was not heard from until she surfaced this week in a high-security prison run by the Belarusian security service.
Her family was told that the woman, who has not been politically active, faces unspecified criminal charges.
The Kremlin-backed regime of Alexander Lukashenko is cracking down on dissent following embarrassing security failures and several attacks on Russian military equipment in Belarus apparently carried out by Belarusian partisans, rights groups have warned.
The motive behind the government’s detentions of psychologists was not clear, but a report on Belarusian state TV last week claimed that an exiled therapist helped a Ukrainian agent to organise a recent attack on a Russian spy plane at a Belarusian airfield.
Belarus lets Moscow use its territory as a staging post for its war on Ukraine.
The Lukashenko regime unleashed unprecedented repression in response to massive nationwide protests against what was widely condemned as the deeply flawed 2020 presidential election. The protests were largely quashed by the end of 2020, but the country’s security agencies are still tracking down rank-and-file protesters, jailing some for merely having been photographed at an anti-Lukashenko rally.
Earlier this month, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled opposition leader, was found guilty of conspiracy to topple the government and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Telegraph Media Group Limited