"Prison is full of prostitutes, homeless and drunkards”
The first detained activists are being released from Akrestsina. There have been no second detentions so far. Euroradio has interviewed some of ‘Akrsetsina hockey team players’ and asked them about the prison conditions during the championship.
Valery Tamilin, 18 years old
"It is always unexpected. As far as I understand, I am an activist of the anarchist movement on the police list. But I have nothing to do with politics. I have been a member of the Food not Bombs campaign for a long time. When I got in the police car, they already had a copy of my passport. I asked them why. They simply replied that I had been born in the wrong country.”
Valery was detained in a Lido restaurant after Chernobyl Way. The young man went to the WC and met policemen there. He spent his first day in jail alone. Then he lived in three different cells. They even had hot water there. Surprisingly, there was almost no cold water.
"We complained about it but they told us that it was normal. It was good that we had hot water.”
Most of his cellmates were people waiting for deportation. The registration of one of the prisoners expired and he was detained the following day. The other person had been deceived about his registration and his employer gave him away to the police.
"There was a Georgian. He has already been deported. His registration expired on April 15. They detained him at the railway station on April 14 and kept him in jail for two days. Then they reported his detention post factum and he got deported.”
He had two political cellmates: Smouzh and Kolas. Policemen asked him to give a written promise ‘not to stick his neck out’ before the release.
"Lenin District Department of the Interior policemen made me give a written promise not to take part in actions and violate the law. They implied that I would be jailed again immediately. They simply said it to me. There is nothing scary about being jailed for some days. You just lose 10-15 days of your life. The food was without salt but it was edible.”
"I do not understand why they detained me. I could be on their list because of my November detention for a T-shirt. Policemen recognized me when I came to car tax protest actions.”
Leanid was noticed at Chernobyl Way too. According to the police report, he was detained at Surhanau Street, 61. However, it happened in a trolleybus in Valhahradskaya Street, Leanid said. They took him to Zavodzki District department of the interior where he had to stand next to a wall for three hours. Then he was delivered to Aksrestina detention centre.
"They accused us of swearing. But we have never heard so many bad words in our life. Rubtsou asked them to let people sit down when we were standing next to the wall. They laughed and said that we would all be able to sit down as soon as they imprisoned us.”
Leanid also had cellmates waiting for deportation. There were Georgians, a Nigerian and a Russian.
"The Georgians were respectful as I was older than them. One of them was suffering from viral hepatitis type C and B. His leg was broken and he had a metal plate in it. We helped him lodge complaints and he was deported home soon afterwards. The other Georgian had deceased kidneys and TB was suspected in him. They bought him a ticket on Wednesday and he will soon be deported too. The Russian was detained for stealing a bottle of vodka from a shop. He had lost his passport and spent three months in Belarus. Putin is worried about Russian-speaking people all over the world but does not care about his citizens. We helped him lodge appeals to the Embassy and the migration services.”
It was impossible to watch hockey. The first radio channel was their only source of information. They hardly ever commented on hockey. However, one of Belarusians’ victorious matches was broadcast live once.
Leanid had to sign various documents on the second floor before the release.
"I noticed a lot of high-heeled shoes in front of almost every cell in the second floor. There were prostitutes in every cell. 3 more people were put in our cell on the night of May 12 and we had 10 instead of 7 people in the cell. We had to take turns sleeping. A lot of people were detained.”
Leanid Kulakou, over 50
"There are two explanations. The first one is my political activity. The second one is the fact that I had a small white-red-white flag in my car. Some driving inspectors smile when they see it and put their thumbs up while others look at me suspiciously. I probably attracted their attention.”
Kulakou was detained in his own flat.
"There was no work to do and I returned home at 4 p.m. The door bell rang. There were two people who said that they were district police officers. A scandal had been reported in my flat, they said. They hit me in the chest on the threshold; I was thrown off to the room. They started checking if there was anybody else home. Then they told me to follow them and allowed to make one phone call.”
They walked to the police station on foot. The scandal was reported at 1 p.m. when Leanid was still at work. They accused him of swearing and delivered to Pershamaiski District Department of the Interior, Leanid was left in a tiny cell without a cot or a bench.
"It was very cold there. I spent a day in that cell. I could not sit down so I spent the whole day on foot. But there were normal people too – they bought me tea.”
The judge suggested that I pled guilty to reduce the sentence.
"I said that I would not cell my conscience and that I did not trust their trial. The judge smiled and said: ‘So what? Nobody trusts us’. He told them to lead me to a cell and bring the witnesses of my detention the following day.”
Leanid was brought to court with one witness the next day. One of the policemen said that he had been swearing in the street and the other – indoors.
"I told the judge that he knew very well that I was innocent. I told him to think about it. I expected to be jailed for 15 days but the judge jailed me for 10 days without looking in my eyes.”
There was only hot water in the first cell and water was also coming down the walls. We had to settle the hot water to drink it. There were pools of water on the floor because there was a hole in the hose.
"Most of my cellmates were drunkards and shoplifters. We had to settle hot water to drink it. There were no blankets. Some people cut them into two pieces.”
Then I was transferred to a cell with a political prisoner and a young man who had fallen asleep drunk in a bus.
"They led us out in the mornings and asked who was on duty. I replied: Kulakou, there are 5 people in the cell, 4 of them are political prisoners jailed for rigged cases. The deputy warden corrected me at first but then he gave up.”
We had three 15 or 20-minute walks in 10 days. The windows in the cell could not be opened and 4 out of 5 people were smokers.
He did not know anything about the results of hockey matches either. However, Kulakou doubts that oppositionists may be detained for the second time.
"The prison is full of prostitutes, homeless people and drunkards. They are unlikely to detain oppositionists again because the prison is full. There are no vacant cells. About hockey – there was a radio receiver but you could hardly hear anything. We knew nothing about hockey. Syarhei Kazakou asked for newspapers and letters of support. Write some if you can, he asked for it.”