Political prisoners

You are always anxious and tense. Honest story of a woman political prisoner about house arrest

In Belarus, 291 palitsvyazynka sentenced to “house arrest. This is a type of punishment like house arrest with strict restrictions. Before a woman is given this type of punishment, she most often waits for her trial in a detention center. It may seem like the most lenient type of punishment, but those sentenced to “home” chemo are very limited in their freedom. Read Anna’s (name changed for security reasons) story about how her days go.

“Perhaps for those convicted under other articles, ‘home’ chemistry is almost freedom. But for those convicted for political reasons – it’s a state where nothing is clear at all. That is, there is a law, which prescribes the rules, but in practice even the inspector of the penal inspection can’t explain these rules. Or deliberately doesn’t want to. The day of a convict depends on these rules.

You never know when they will come to you. Or maybe they have already come and you haven’t heard. That’s the hardest part, because they can make any kind of provocation to give you a violation. From Monday to Friday, from six in the morning until 7 p.m., you can stay on the territory of the house, but you can’t go outside the fence. It is more difficult for those who live in an apartment. You can go to work, but on a strictly specified route. Two hours a day are given for visits to the clinic, pharmacy, stores, bank, post office and other institutions and organizations. In the same two hours I am allowed to see my parents. I always have to choose.

From 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day you cannot go out at all. On Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, you can’t go out at all. I always plan things so that on weekends there is more to do around the house: repairs, cleaning, laundry.

They come often. They can come at any time of the day. But more often they come at night, that is, after 10 p.m. Sometimes they come several times. At that time, you are not only obligated to come to the door, but also not to prevent the employee from entering the house. They come sometimes six days in a row and twice a night. On weekends they always come, sometimes during the day and in the evening.  They can ask you to breathe into a tube, it’s an alcohol test. And they can ask all kinds of questions: who you live with, where you work, whether you took alcohol and drugs, they ask you to name your article, to show your passport. Although they have documents with this information on them. It all depends on the employee: how educated, how well-mannered and human qualities he/she is. If you violate them, they send you to the penitentiary.

I have a big family, so everyone visits me, they don’t give me permission to visit my relatives. I can honestly say: my family sustains me.

The hard thing is that you are always under pressure. You have to remember what day of the week, what time and what you can do, not to mix up the days and time of the inspection. For a politician, you have to go to the inspectorate four times a month.  Make sure the doorbell works and don’t miss an inspection.

“Home chemistry is very challenging.  Because you don’t know or understand how to behave so you don’t get violations. That’s why I limit myself in everything. If a person lives in an apartment, it’s just awful. And if a convicted person doesn’t have loved ones – he’s in a critical situation. Supporting people on ‘home’ chemistry is very important – cards and letters are allowed to them.”

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