Kacia Karpickaja: A Month in a Minsk Jail

Kacia Karpickaja, courtesy of her Facebook page

Yulya Tsimafeyeva
Facebook
September 18, 2021

Belarusian actress and journalist Kacia Karpickaja spent a month in the detention center in Akrescina street. She has been recently released. Here is her story of how innocent women (about the “crimes” of her cellmates you can read in the end of the posting) are tortured just in these very minutes. I translated her story into English. If you want to share it, please, copy the English text as you could share only the Belarusian variant.

“I am breaking a month of my forced silence that I have spent at Akrescina (pre-trial detention center) with this funny photo. For the sake of additional security, this fact was not reported anywhere.

Why I was taken to the pre-trial detention center is a story for another Facebook post, and in this, I would just like to remind you that along with our political prisoners, people at Akrescina are still being tortured. 30 days there in today’s conditions was enough for me to come out with a bunch of new diseases — from pharyngotracheitis to cystitis and COVID (by the way, it was the vaccination that helped me to overcome the latter quite easily compared to my cellmates). And people spend there up to 60 days or more, depending on how many detention reports the officials would make up for them.

They are in insanitary conditions — they are never taken to the shower and are not even given toothbrushes. Sometimes you have to beg for centimeters of toilet paper.

They are not taken for walks for months (the air could only penetrate to our cell №15 from the corridor through the “feeding trough”, but all the time it was intentionally closed).

They stay there without mattresses (mouldy bread served us as a pillow, it would still be possible to sleep on the bare floor or a bunk bed, but the nights had been wildly cold for a long time – even hugging each other and holding a bottle of hot water between the legs we could not stop trembling. Our nights were full of exercises – squats, push-ups, planking – they helped us to warm up and fall asleep).

They have no dreams (at 2 and 4 am we were waken up to the roll call; there is no need to remind about a bright artificial lighting that is on day and night).

They are not given parcels from relatives (many women were taken from work or their dachas in skirts, dresses, and at night they had to lay on the cold floor until one of those who were to be released soon, took off her sweatshirts or pants or socks and passed to them. The toothbrush I inherited had been used by five people before me <…>).

They are half hungry (I had to pay more than 400 rubles (about 150 euros) for a month of detention, and for the money I had received an empty soup a liquid with a couple of potatoes and potato peels, mouldy bread and half a cup of tea or thin jelly two times a day. How these portions can refresh our men, I can’t imagine).

They are there without adequate medical care (in the cell №15 meant for two at most 20 women were kept – in the cold and stuffy air they all quickly began to get sick. All of them were attacked by coronavirus, which, like other diseases, was treated with paracetamol. Without any ability to move around the cell 3 by 4 meters in area, with poor nutrition all abruptly stopped going to the toilet. Sorry for these details, but in 30 days I was able to poo only three times).

They are kept there like guinea pigs. It even feels creepy to tell you how grown-up women and men, the detention center employees, are thrilled to watch in the peepholes and cameras how we cope with a new experiment invented by them. First, they put lice-ridden Alla Ilinishna and Marinka to our cell and waited that we should start being hysterical. But we found common ground with them, and a few days later, it were the guards who were “hysterical” and had to take so-called marginals from our cell to “roast”, because the situation was close to the epidemic of pediculosis. The staff was very worried about the state of their uniforms — they had to to toss our cell two times a day and fan us out, and it was so easy to catch at least a few insects.

Then another Marina was housed with us — she had intestinal disorders, she was all in shit, and in ulcers that flowed with blood, in the fungus. And she had a severe withdrawal syndrome. The detention-center staff were watching and expecting us to fail. But we just started washing Marinka over the hole in the floor and begged the nurse to give us antiseptic green dye to treat her wounds. We were forbidden to sit and sleep, we were insulted, but we didn’t stop joking and our laughter was heard from the cameras – all this was very annoying to the detention center staff.

I have some more things to remind, but I will describe all the tortures and crimes against Belarusians in detail in complaints to the authorities (although they will later say that these facts have not been confirmed, Azaronka (a notorious propagandist on the state TV) liked Akrescina). But for now, let me just briefly remind you what for so called delinquents in Belarus are tortured:

– For going out in a red dress with a white cape.
– For coming to support Maria Kalesnikava’s dad in the court (they wrote in the report “I wanted to release Maria Kalesnikava”).
– For bringing a flower to the place of Taraikouski’s murder.
– For messaging a news article from “extremist” telegram channels to her husband.
– For filming a demonstration in Lošitsa (district of Minsk).
– For telling a soldier “We will win”.
– For reading books by Belarusian writers on the train.
– For being not wanted by the new authorities of the Academy of Public Administration under the Aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus.
– For chatting with Lebiadziny (district of Minsk) neighbors.
– For returning from France, where she married a Frenchman.
– For working in “Korpus” (an independent cultural venue), and when GUBAZIK came there, she “disobeyed” them (in fact, of course not).
– For being an IT-specialist who can know cyberpartisans.”

Kacia Karpickaja
Facebook
September 18, 2021

Гэтым вясёлым фота перарываю свой вымушаны месяц маўчання, які правяла на Акрэсціна. У мэтах дадатковай бяспекі факт гэты спецыяльна асабліва нідзе не афішаваўся.

Як я трапіла ў ЦІП – гісторыя на асобны пост, а ў гэтым я проста хацела б нагадаць, што разам з палітзняволенымі па крыміналцы нашых працягваюць катаваць на Акрэсціна. 30 сутак там у сённяшніх умовах мне хапіла, каб выйсці з букетам новых хвароб – ад фарынгатрахеіту да цыстыту і кароны (дарэчы, менавіта прышчэпка дапамагла перанесці апошняе досыць лёгка ў параўнанні з маімі сукамерніцамі). А людзі сядзяць там па 60 сутак і больш, у залежнасці ад таго, колькі пратаколаў ім захочуць накінуць.

Сядзяць у антысанітарыі – іх ніколі не водзяць у душ і не выдаюць нават шчотак з асаблівых рэчаў. Туалетную паперу часам прыходзілася выбіваць па сантыметры.

Сядзяць месяцамі без шпацыроў (паветра ў камеру №15 магло паступаць да нас толькі з калідора праз “кармушку”, але яе спецыяльна ўвесь час зачынялі).

Сядзяць без матрацаў (падушкай нам служыў спляснелы хлеб, а на голай падлозе ці шконцы спаць было б яшчэ магчыма, але ночы даўно дзіка халодныя – нават абдымаючы адна адну і заціскаючы паміж ног бутэльку з гарачай вадой мы не маглі супакоіць дрыжыкі. Ночы ператвараліся ў цыкл фізічных практыкаванняў – прысядаць, паадціскацца, пастаяць у планцы – неяк пагрэцца і заснуць).

Сядзяць без сноў (у два і чатыры ночы нас падымалі на пераклічкі; пра тое, што там суткамі гарыць яркае штучнае асвятленне, і нагадваць не трэба).

Сядзяць без перадач (многіх жанчын забіралі з працы ці лецішч у спадніцах, сукенках, і яны так і ляжалі начамі на халоднай падлозе, пакуль нехта з тых, хто выходзіў на волю, не здымаў з сябе байку ці трусы-шкарпэткі. Шчоткай, якая ў спадчыну дасталася мне, карысталася яшчэ чалавек пяць да гэтага, здаецца. А ў майцы хадзіла сама маці “Хлопотного дельца”).

Сядзяць на палову галодныя (за месяц харчавання я мусіла заплаціць больш 400 рублёў (каля 150 еўра), і за гэтыя грошы на абед атрымлівала пусты суп – вадкасць з парай бульбін і лупінай ад яе, спляснелы хлеб і два кубкі гарбаты ці кісель, якія запаўнялі толькі палову кубка. Як мясцовых порцый хапае нашым хлопцам, я не ўяўляю).

Сядзяць без адэкватнай медыцынскай дапамогі (у пікавы момант у двухмеснай камеры №15 утрымлівалася 20 жанчын – у холадзе і духаце ўсе хутка пачыналі хварэць. Усіх атакоўваў каранавірус, які, як і іншыя хваробы, лечыцца там з большага парацатамолам. Без магчымасці рухацца ў хаце 3 на 4 метры, з дрэнным харчаваннем усе рэзка пераставалі хадзіць у туалет. Ужо прабачце за падрабязнасці, але за 30 сутак я змагла зрабіць гэта толькі тры разы).

Сядзяць як паддоследныя. Мне нават неяк не па сабе расказваць, як дарослыя цёткі і дзядзькі з ЦІП кайфуюць, назіраючы ў вочкі і камеры за тым, як мы будзем змагацца з новым прыдуманым выпрабаваннем. Спачатку да вас падсяляюць Аллу Ільінішну і Марынку з вошамі, чакаючы, што ў вас пачнецца істэрыка. Але мы знаходзім з імі агульную мову, і праз некалькі дзён “істэрыка” здараецца ў дзяжурных, якія ўсё ж вядуць так званых маргіналаў з нашых камер на “пражарку”, бо сітуацыя блізкая да эпідэміі педыкулёзу. Супрацоўнікі вельмі перажываюць за стан сваёй формы – яны вымушаныя два разы на суткі праводзіць шмон у нашых камерах і прашчупваць нас, а так лёгка падчапіць як мінімум адзежных насякомых.

Пасля да вас падсяляюць новую Марыну – у яе расстройства кішэчніка, яна ўся ў гаўне, а яшчэ ў язвах, якія сцякаюць крывёю, у грыбку. А яшчэ ў яе жорсткі абстынентны сіндром. Супрацоўнікі ЦІП назіраюць і чакаюць, што мы сарвемся.

Але мы проста бяром і пачынам мыць Марынку над дзіркай у падлозе і выбіваем у медсупрацоўніка зялёнку, каб апрацаваць яе раны. Нам забраняюць сядзець і спаць, абражаюць, але мы працягваем жартаваць і з камер чуецца смех – усё гэта вельмі раздражняе супрацоўнікаў ЦІП.

Мне ёсць яшчэ што згадаць, але больш падрабязна я апішу ўсе катаванні і прамыя злачынствы ў дачыненні да беларусаў у скаргах у дзяржустановы (хоць яны пасля і скажуць, што дадзеныя факты не пацвердзіліся, Азаронку ж у нас падабалася). Але пакуль проста коратка нагадаю, за што ў Беларусі так здекуюцца з людзей у статусе правапарушальнікаў:

-Была на вуліцы ў чырвонай сукенцы з белай накідкай.
-Прыйшла падтрымаць тату Марыі Калеснікавай на суд (у пратаколе напісалі “хацела вызваліць Марыю Калеснікаву”).
-Прынесла кветку да месца забойства Тарайкоўскага.
-Пераслала мужу ў асабістыя навіны з “экстрэмісцкіх” тэлеграм-каналаў.
-Зняла на відэа дваравы марш у Лошыцы.
-Сказала вайскоўцу “Наша возьме”.
-Чытала ў электрычцы кніжкі беларускіх пісьменнікаў.
-Была непажаданай новаму кіраўніцтву Акадэміі кіравання.
-Перапісвалася ў чаце Лебядзінага з суседзямі.
-Вярнулася з Францыі, дзе выйшла замуж за француза.
-Працавала ў “Корпусе”, а калі туды прыехаў ГУБАЗІК, “аказала” ім непадпарадкаванне (насамрэч, вядома, не).
-Айцішніца, якая можа ведаць кіберпартызанаў.

Goodbye to All That

One thing I find especially charming about certain Russians, often academics, who have lived for decades in “straunge strondes” (чужбина), is their conviction, now that the current “vegan” times have permitted them to make occasional and even annual junkets back to the Motherland, that life here is now nearly the same in every respect as back in the straunge strondes.

I’ll leave to one side the political aspects of this queer conviction, focusing instead on a single aspect of everyday life. I’ve heard it said a million times by many a Russian not resident in God’s Heavenly Kingdom on Earth full time or even part time (really) that wi-fi and internet connections here are the top of the pops, so much better than wherever they live, surrounded by black people and Mexicans and uncultured rednecks.

I have to admit that, outside of Russia, my only experience of wi-fi and internet connections over the last ten years or so has been places in the States and elsewhere where I’ve stayed for short stretches, including my parents’ farm, my sister’s house in the Cities, and the apartments of friends in other cities and countries, as well as my own secret hideout in Free Finland.

In all these places, I enjoyed shockingly fast, nearly outage-free internet and wi-fi connections. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times there were full-fledged outages in Free Finland, and all of them were sorted out in a matter of an hour or two, if not in a few minutes, with the sincerest of apologies by my Finnish providers.

As for the Cradle of Three Revolutions, everything was cool and seemingly getting cooler until sometime in the past year when, I suspect, the FSB placed so many demands, both physical and financial, on internet providers, that they are now no longer capable of doing routine maintenance on their networks and upgrading their hardware and software, despite the growing demand for their services on the part of the taxpaying and fee-paying populace.

But the ISPs serve a higher power—the siloviki—who are so out of their minds right now as to imagine you can organize a revolution on VKontakte by reposting pictures of Nazis and Navalny or something of the sort. They thus have to have ever-increasing capacities for surveilling the peons they rule over like medieval liege lords (or so they imagine), and they have tasked the country’s internet providers with giving them lots of electronic windows into the souls of these traitorous worms.

At least, I hope this is the case, because otherwise the sheer misery and torment visited on us since approximately last spring by our once faithful internet provider, long ago swallowed up by another company from Moscow and bereft of all the charms and virtues it had back in the days when I was one of its first customers, are inexplicable.

One look at the junction box in our attic will tell you tell that, in fact, is where the problem lies, and yet every time our internet goes under, which can be several times a day, the mumblers who man the phones at our provider’s tech support service run us through the same routines, all meant to persuade us morons that the problem is with our computers or even with our ignorant selves, not with the woeful state of the junction box in the attic or farther down the line.

Things turn from irritating to tragicomic when our provider sends an actual person to fix the mess. Nearly all of them (at this point, a dozen or so have darkened our door since spring) start out by ringing the changes on our wi-fi router, which supposedly has to be replaced, or the plastic snap connector on the end of the broadband cable or the cable itself.

If we can induce them to go up into the attic and open the junction box or just look at the junction box, which has wires poking out from in in all directions, like a Dalek gone south, they break down and admit the problem is on their end. If they’re kind and competent, they might apply a temporary fix by switching out a couple of cables in the box.

Then we have the joy of living humanity’s shared electronic life for an hour or two, or day or three, or, god forbid, a whole week. Sooner or later, though, the plug will be pulled on our meager joy, and our provider, unable or unwilling to give us the real explanation for the problem (our junction box? their servers back at the head office? SORM?), will plunge us back into their rehearsed routine of selling snake oil to their loyal customers, whose nerves shattered and hearts broken, their ability to do their own work suspended indefinitely.

I think all of us who actually live in the real Russia full time could make a long list of the country’s practical shortcomings, without once touching on politics per se, and the list would be long and sobering and, occasionally, incredibly frightening.

But the crypto-Putinists who teach at places like Berkeley and don’t actually live here never or hardly ever deal with this failed state, don’t want to have the really hard talk about how nearly all of these eminently practical failures are caused, ultimately, by wildly bad governance.

And what is the point of having that talk with them? They’ll only get testy and resort to whataboutism, the last refuge of scoundrels. ||| TRR, 19 September 2018. Photo of the beautiful clear blue sky in downtown Petersburg by the Russian Reader

Byudzhetniki

Byudzhetniki (state sector employees), as imagined by Yandex Zen. This image illustrates a 2019 op-ed piece claiming that 51.8% of all workers in Russia are state sector employees or byudzhetniki (and bemoaning that fact because, allegedly, it lowers GDP).

Alexander Skobov | Facebook | September 18, 2021

I am terribly annoyed by the word byudzhetniki [state sector employees], when it is used in relation to those [whose superiors] try and corral them into voting a certain way. And it’s not just that I worked in the public schools for almost twenty years and would have liked to see them try and force me to vote in a certain way. The fact is that the system of coerced corporate loyalty works exactly the same in the private sector as in the state sector. It is exactly the same in private companies. The byudzhetnik is largely a bogey of the liberal mindset. Do you think it is more difficult to make an employee of a private company “fall into rank” than a state employee? Just take a look at Google.

Translated by the Russian Reader

The Fix Is In: Sevastopol

“@novaya_gazeta !! The ballot box at Polling Station 98 in Sevastopol is being stuffed right now, Novaya Gazeta’s correspondent reported. This can be seen on the video surveillance system. About 20 minutes after the site closed, a man is stuffing ballots, and a woman is helping him. Video: Nadezhda Isayeva, Novaya Gazeta.”
#TheFixIsIn

The Fix Is In: “Killing Your Children’s Future”

Polling Station 475, Kletnya, Bryansk Region:
“A member of the [election] commission, [her head] covered with a hood, tosses bundles of ballots for the party of the beloved President [into the ballot box]. That’s how they’re killing your future and your children’s future.”

The Fix Is In (Social Distancing)

More evidence that #TheFixIsIn in the 2021 Russian elections, this time from Novaya Gazeta via election observers from A Just Russia party: “The head of the Central Elections Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said that the three-day voting is necessary so that voters can observe social distancing. These are photos of Polling Station No. 343, in Petersburg’s Vyborg district, in the middle of a working day.”

 

The Fix Is In

Ballot box stuffing in Petersburg, captured on video by Irina Fatyanova and published by the indispensable Mediazona: “This video from Petersburg shows a man in a medical mask and a cap coming out of a curtained booth and having a hard time shoving a pack of ballots into the ballot box.”

From the Lives of the People


George Losev
Facebook
September 14, 2021

I chatted with an 86-year-old woman while I was changing the power outlet on her kitchen stove. She was from a village near Vologda and still pronounced her unstressed o’s as full o’s. She worked for 58 years on construction sites. She started working in ’54 or ’55. She worked for three years as an unskilled laborer, then for eight years as a painter before making the switch to plastering.

“I really liked this work. But then everything fell apart, and anyone could get the job. If you could hold a brush, you could go to work as a painter.”

If I understood her correctly, she said that, in the fifties, sixties and seventies, without a specialized education, it was impossible to get a job anywhere except as a helper.

She said that they had lived quite poorly, that the foreman earned 15 rubles a month. I didn’t understand how this could be and so I expressly asked her again, and she confirmed what she’d said.

In the seventies, the planning got better, and life became easier. But she had still spent her entire life “in poverty.”

“My legs began to give out, and I was forbidden to work. Otherwise I would have kept working. I was already used to this being how things were, that we were working stiffs and this was how we lived.”

Her husband also worked on construction sites, as a finisher. She has a daughter. She lives in her son-in-law’s two-room apartment, renting out one of the rooms. Despite her obvious and visible poverty, the apartment was very clean. She tried to pay me generously, but I didn’t take any money.

We started talking about migrants. She said they were good, hard-working, polite people. They always helped her, carried her groceries. Migrants had saved her life after she had her first or second stroke, which had happened outside. Russians had walked on by, but “Georgians or migrants, basically two non-Russians” had come to her aid, telephoning an ambulance and waiting with her.

“I don’t want to badmouth migrants. I just wonder where our people are, Russians? Have they really all retired? Or don’t they want to work?”

George Losev is a housing authority electrician, veteran grassroots activist and DIY football enthusiast in Petersburg. Thanks to Jeremy Morris for helpful comments on the translation. Photo and translation by the Russian Reader

Navalny’s Musicians

13 musicians not allowed to perform at City Day concert in Moscow due to support for Navalny
The Village
Tasya Elfimova
September 11, 2021

The Federal Protective Service (FSO) did not allow several musicians to perform at a concert in honor of City Day in Moscow due to their alleged support of Alexei Navalny.

Sergei Sobyanin and Vladimir Putin were planning to attend the celebration, so the FSO vetted the lists of performers in advance. The FSO did not admit thirteen people to the performance without explaining the reasons. Dmitry Klyuyev, an employee of the State Academic Chapel Choir, believes that it happened because the musicians were in the leaked databases of Alexei Navalny’s projects or had taken part in protest rallies.

Four employees of the chapel choir, three people from the Svetlanov State Orchestra and six people from the team of directors were removed from the concert.

“The organizers are in shock, no one has explained anything to them,” Klyuyev said.

Source: OVD Info

Translated by the Russian Reader

Alexander Gudkov, “Aquatic Disco,” a song inspired by Alexei Navalny’s revelations that the blueprints for “Putin’s palace” contained a room labeled as such

Moscow Police Use Leaked Personal Data To Investigate Navalny Supporters
RFE/RL Russian Service
August 18, 2021

Moscow police are using leaked online personal data from projects linked to jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to investigate people who have supported the Kremlin critic.

The OVD Info website said on August 17 that police had visited some 20 individuals who registered for online projects developed by Navalny associates or donated to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his other projects.

According to OVD Info, police are demanding explanations from the people as to how their names were included in the leaked data related to Navalny’s online projects and why they are involved with him.

In June, a court in Moscow labeled FBK and Navalny’s other projects and groups extremist and banned them. Under Russian law, cooperation with such groups is considered illegal and may lead to criminal prosecution.

Police have not said how they obtained the people’s personal data from Navalny’s websites.

One person, who was not identified, told OVD Info that police asked him to file a legal complaint against Navalny to accuse him of sharing personal data.

Journalist and municipal lawmaker Ilya Azar, whose personal data was among those leaked, wrote on Telegram late on August 17 that police had tried to visit him as well, but he was not at home.

“They talked to [my] neighbors about some personal data leaked on the Internet,” Azar wrote.

One such leak took place in April, when the online campaign called “Freedom to Navalny” was reportedly compromised.

Navalny associates said at the time that a former FBK worker had “stolen” all the personal data of those who registered at the pro-Navalny site.

After that leak, the Moscow [subway] fired dozens of workers whose personal data turned up among the names of Navalny supporters.