Right now, I am at home in Brest after three days of detention for participating in unauthorized actions during last Sunday’s protest — I was working as a journalist, with a press badge and all the necessary documents and dressed in a special vest.
In an hour I have to be in court again, so at the moment I’m packing my things. The protocol was drawn up with a large number of errors, the case was sent for revision, so I was temporarily released. It took the court just three hours to extend the detention, so now I am again waiting for the court’s statement.
Last Sunday, when the protests started again, I was taking photos, as usual, with a reporter from our newspaper. Suddenly, a police bus drove up to us, and we were pushed inside without any reason. “Everything will be explained to you later,” the policeman said. No explanation followed, they just put us in jail for 72 hours, drawing up a protocol in a rush. My camera was confiscated, and all the photos were deleted.
We seemed to be prepared for the worst, but we hardly expected such terrible conditions in prison — it resembled the conditions found in concentration camps: bunk beds, lights on for 24 hours, cold slop instead of normal food. Fortunately, they did not use any physical violence against us, but there was moral pressure: “hands behind your back,” “look down,” “20 minutes for a walk.”. And of course, we were left without any telephone connection. Only books, mice, and slop — as if we were in a horror movie.
I have watched every protest since August 9th. On the first day, the journalists were on the front line between the riot police and the protesters.
We thought we were fearless and immortal, as if no one would touch us. But then, when we saw what was happening on the streets, fear appeared.
On the other hand, what’s the point in fear? I know that I didn’t break the law — it is the authorities who are really engaged in illegal activities.
After a few days of protests in Brest, only two or three media networks continued to cover this topic, because it is easy to end up in jail. Many journalists have been detained. Accreditation does not mean anything if you are not from the pro-regime media — such journalists were checked on the database and released after 15 minutes.
The maximum penalty I could get is 15 days of detention, and since we have already been held three days, most likely, we will have to serve 12 more — it’s up to the jury. My lawyer was shocked by the number of mistakes they made in the protocol. They even drew up the document BY September.
I feel support from my friends and people in other countries. Now, Belarus lives as usual from Monday to Saturday, but the protests start on Sunday, and all the police are driven into the city. Infamous prison vans, black Fords, drive around the streets and just take peaceful people.
Although it all sounds depressing, I believe there is no way back. We live with hope. We are against violence, and we want to be treated like people, not like a flock of sheep.
After two hours, Roman sent us the following message:
’’The trial ended — it was dirty and disgusting, I am sentenced to 15 more days. They said I was a leader of a protesting column, shouted slogans, and showed the crowd where to go. One of the police chiefs gave evidence against me. I will celebrate my birthday in prison, for the first time ever — cool!’’