23 January 2018, Tuesday, 20:47

Volha Zavadskaya: Russian border guards detained us at the prompt


FSB investigators were questioning Belarusians about Ukraine and religious sects for six hours.

Volha Zavadskaya, the mother of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, who disappeared in 2000, was detained on the Belarusian-Russian border during her trip to Katyn on August 23, Radio Svaboda reports.

The woman was set free late in the evening. Volha Zavadskaya shared details about the incident, a FSB jail and questionings by FSB officers.

– I and other activists have been visiting Katyn for three years. It is always interesting. We know one another well. It's an opportunity to talk to like-minded people. The very fact of the detention ostensibly did not have political reasons, but the grounds to pay more attention to us were political. Look. How do we usually cross the Russian border? Border guards enter the bus, count the passengers, stamp the driver's documents. That's all. This time, I was travelling with a copy of my passport, because I give it to an embassy to make a visa. I took my pension certificate just in case. I thought they would not check it. This time, everything went as usual on the border. They counted us and let us go.

We left the border, but they caught us up, stopped and began a thorough check. We heard that these men were receiving phone calls. They were worried and had tense conversations. They were going to detain us apparently at the prompt. They figured out that I and another man didn't have our passports. They ordered activist Yauhen Bature to take off his T-shirt with the text 'Stop Putin'. Ales Makayeu was also checked. It took 2 hours. They then allowed the bus to go with the escort. The man and I were ordered to leave the bus. We were taken to Rudnia, 80 kilometres from the border. There's a border department of the FSB in Rudnia. We were questioned there.

– Did they explain why you were detained?

– Yes, they did. They said it was done for identification. We arrived there at around 5 p.m. and were set free only at 11 p.m. (local time). We were held in different cells. A cell is a room of nearly 10 square metres with two bunk beds, stools, a table and bedside tables. Everything is fixed to the floor. The oil painted walls of a specific colour look like the walls in a public toilet, but without inscriptions. Mattresses without bedlinen are on the beds. I didn't need to use them, because I was taken for a questioning. They questioned me two times. It seems they use this method to compare answers. The questionings were carried out by different people. They asked why I was travelling and with whom. They also asked me about my attitude to different events, also to the events in Ukraine. They wanted to know who is guilty in the conflict in my view. They asked many questions about well-known people.

– Did they know your story? Did they know your son Dzmitry had disappeared?

– They didn't know or pretended they didn't know. However, it looked sincere. They didn't know anything about Zakharanka, Hanchar and Krasouski. I had to tell them. I gave many comments on Russian events, but they said I apparently watched television too much. I answered I watched different channels to compare and had other information sources besides television. They asked if I was a member of a religious sect and said all sects came from America. They gave interesting comments, very illustrative. They seem to be young people, but...

– Did they feed you? How did they treat you?

– I'd say they were polite. They didn't feed me. They only offered tea and allowed me to eat my sandwiches. They wanted me to stay in the cell for the night, but I demanded they should release us immediately. It's good that our bus was waiting for us on the border. By the way, they escorted us in Russia, also in Katyn. We were taken from Rudnia to the border and set free at around 11:30 p.m. We returned home on our bus.

Volha Zavadskaya said the case over her son's disappearance was still under investigation, but she thinks no one really worked on it.