Political prisoners

Maryia Uspenskaya: “Her thoughts drifted back to the past, when she had normal life”

The Belarusian female political prisoner Maryia Uspenskaya is the widow of Andrei Zeltser, who was shot down by military forces. She was sentenced to compulsory treatment in a psychiatric hospital with routine observation. Besides that, the court ordered that material compensation for moral damage of 100,000 BYN be recovered from Maryia for a person who has suffered harm – the widow of a KGB worker. That money was supposed to be transferred to a bank account of a Minsk children’s home

The human rights defenders from “Viasna” were told by female political former prisoner Alisa (the name was changed) how she met Maryia in prison. All female detainees in the Zeltser case were held in Akrestsina Detention Centre in one double prison cell on the second floor. 16 people were locked in that prison cell for five days without any mattresses and bed dress.  When Alisa and other detainees were brought to the prison cell, the wife of the murdered Andrei Zeltser, Maryia Uspenskaya, had been there already. 

Suddenly we discovered that the wife of the murdered Andrei Zeltser, Maryia, was with us in the prison cell. When we entered, one of the detained girls asked Maryia, ‘Could I hug you?’ At first, Maryia was curious about why, but then we told her that we felt sorry for her and wanted to show our compassion. She was shocked that so many people had been detained because of internet comments about her husband. Masha cried hard because she couldn’t attend her husband’s funeral and she couldn’t say goodbye to him. Sometimes she lost the sense of reality and she was saying: “Listen, how can I go and pay for the apartment now?” The person was in such intense shock that her thoughts drifted back to the past, when she had normal life. The Akrestsina workers treated her badly and called her “the chik with pink hair”. All the time we cursed at the workers, telling them not to dare to abuse the woman. We supported Masha as much as we could. Every day she was summoned for interrogation, but she said that she wasn’t mistreated. We thought that we would be released soon, so we remembered the address to visit her child and her mom. We believed that we would only be locked up for comments for only 10 days.

We didn’t ask Masha what happened on September 28 in their apartment so as not to hurt her. Even in our criminal cases, there was no mention of it. But Masha told us that Andrei was successful in cryptocurrency and had managed to withdraw a huge sum of money before the military forces arrived at their home. This could have been the reason why the military forces raided his house,” said the woman.

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