Political prisoners

Ina Shyrokaya: Prison daily life

Ina Shyrokaya characterizes prison daily life as simple and miserable.

“I learned to sleep with a book in my hands without showing that I am asleep and to move while lying down when the prison worker on duty looks through the judas-hole, in order to make him think that I am sleeping. I learned to eat food that I wouldn’t even consider eating in other circumstances like not prepared borscht, water porridge, prison bread, dried fruit drink and kissel. I learned to catch lice and bedbugs and not shudder with disgust.  I learned not to comb my hair during the week – from one shower to another, because my hair was in a tight braid. I learned to manage without a watch because time inside the prison didn’t mean anything. I learned to boil water inside a cup or a basin in such a way that I wouldn’t be injured by electricity. Even if I were injured, it wouldn’t be severe…

I learned to wash the intimate area with the help of a cup for one minute, because there was a line to the toilet. I learned to cook the salad in a plastic bag.I learned to cook borscht using dried beets or to add it to the unprepared borscht that was given for dinner. I learned how to cook the fish paté from the “grave” (that’s how we called the boiled, not cleaned blue whiting, that dish that was given to us three times in a week). I learned to store food products in a large shared bucket, surrounding them with bottles filled with cold water and changing them from time to time. I learned to wring out my clothes by hand until all the water drains from them and dry them on the jail window bars (I did it in secrecy as it was forbidden). I learned to keep nix at the same time when someone looks through the judas-hole. I learned a lot of senseless things that I don’t need. I learned to take off the handcuffs inside the paddywagon and plant my feet firmly in its cell in order to avoid being thrown around during the paddywagon’s movement. I learned how to pronounce the report and make the bed as instructed. I also learned to hide a water bottle under my clothes before walking in the prison yard, so I could wet down the dusty ground as my political prisoner cellmate Volha Halubovich had asthma and asphyxiation” – said Ina.

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