Political prisoners

Palitviazynka Volha Kalaskouskaja: “I found out what is standing sleep”

Palitviazynka Volha Kalaskouskaja was sentenced to 2,5 years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. During her imprisonment Volha was repeatedly placed in the disciplinary cell and solitary confinement. Volha served her term in jail. A lot of Belarusian female political prisoners recalled Volha’s name and designated her as a moral guide. Some of the female political prisoners said that they wanted to share the cell with Volha as she was a moral guide and support for many of them. We talked with Volha about her being placed in disciplinary confinement (SHIZO). We are grateful to her for that hard and frank talk. In the photos – Volha before the imprisonment and now.

“If you are In SIZO and in a colony, you are waiting for the night with hope as the day passes, and it’s one day closer to release.  At the same time, if you are in SHIZO, waiting for the night is a nightmare itself, because it’s extremely cold in SHIZO. So cold that a person’s attention and thoughts are all about the ways of getting warm. There are no mattresses, no bed dress, it’s necessary to sleep on a narrow rack. The rack should be fastened to the wall for a day. It’s impossible to fall asleep because of the chilling coldness. In SHIZO a person wears only a thin prison uniform with the sign “SHIZO” on the back. It’s allowed to have a thin T-shirt underneath the uniform. The legs are naked, forbidden to put on leggings. In the middle of the night you are starting to rub your legs, arms, you are doing exercises to get warm. The water is cold. It’s allowed to take with you only a piece of soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush and a towel. It’s forbidden to take pads, so you have to ask for them – and the pads given as a sign of generosity. I suffered from severe bleeding caused by strong stress, and for me, that all was excruciation. It’s also impossible to wash anything. Do you understand in which condition you are there? Imagine, I stand with naked bloody legs, the underpants are in blood, and some of the prison workers are laughing at me.

I underwent two medical operations because of that bleeding during my imprisonment – once from Valadarka prison, I was taken for the operation, and the second time I was taken from the Homel colony to the hospital. After the first operation, I was sent to SHIZO literally from the surgical table. Before the first operation, I was given injections that helped to stop the bleeding. The injections were not made in the cell, I was asked to take off underwear and push through the prison feeder my buttocks, and in that way I was given the injection. That  was under the surveillance camera. That is humiliation for every normal person.

Later, I found out what is standing sleep. Before, I read about it in Solzhenitsyn’s books. If you are locked in SHIZO, it will be hard to get out of it because the term of being there can be prolonged again and again. I sang songs to not become mad and to raise morale.
Once a long-sleeve tank top was handed over. I took off the prison uniform jacket and put my blue cold legs into the uniform jacket’s sleeve.  Getting up is at 5 am and it’s necessary to tidy up the cell. The stinking rag and the bucket with chlorinated water are given. The breakfast is only after the cleaning. 

I began to lose weight rapidly when I was locked in SHIZO and solitary confinement. In general I lost 15 kg. I do not recommend that diet to anyone.
The main goal of those tortures is to break a person. To make an obedient slave out of the person.

Scroll to Top