It is known for sure that the Belarusian people will win this marathon.
Political prisoner Maryja Kalesnikava answered questions from The Village reporter Yevgeniya Sugak.
- Masha, in an interview before the elections you told me that if we do not win, we will all be rolled into asphalt. Is this what it is now? Have we been rolled?
- We have already won over ourselves, our fear, and we know exactly what we want. But they are still trying to roll us into the red-green asphalt. Free strong people will never again be driven under the plinth. And the main thing for us to remember: it's darkest before dawn.
- How has your character changed after six months in prison?
- Even more self-discipline and order in business and the head develop the ability not to pay attention to inconveniences. And so I do the maximum of what I can, with what is, and where I am.
- You are very cheerful in letters, which is not very typical for a person in prison. Is it true, or is it really bad for you but you try to cheer people with your optimism?
- It's true. As for my optimism and ability to enjoy life in any conditions, nothing has changed. If there are problems, I solve them. If I can't solve it right away, I pause, get ready, wait for the right moment and decide. I believe that prison is not a place for tears and sadness, and I laugh also loudly and heartily. Ask both staff and investigators.
- In a recent interview Lukashenka was asked about you and he pretended not to remember who Kalesnikava was. Do you remember who Lukashenka is?
- I remember this man very well. This man calls himself a dictator, the Belarusians - a little people, and Belarus - a piece of land. He admits that he gave the go-ahead to destroy the most powerful competitors and drowned the country in blood and violence. Obviously, this person is scared to death, and I feel sorry for this person.
- Masha, people have almost stopped taking to the streets. Does it offend you, bother you?
- I admire the Belarusian people. We have changed, and this is forever! I am proud of our courage, bravery, and perseverance, and I know for sure who will win this marathon.
- How did you come up with the idea of tearing your passport? Did you plan this while you were being driven to the border, or was it an impulsive act?
- I myself thought for a long time under what conditions it would be impossible to take me out. I assumed that most likely without a passport, but I was not sure of this. Already leaving the KGB after many hours of "conversation," where I categorically answered "no" to the ultimatum, I suspected that there would be deportation. All the way, I thought about how to prevent this.
I didn't have a solution, but the moment the passport was in my hands, it came by itself, and it worked. For the masked people, it took some time to process it: they would not let me out of the car with my already torn passport. I had to drive a safe distance so that I could get out. I got out and just walked back down the dividing strip.
- What in prison life strains you the most?
- Two things are very stressful: laws that are not observed by the prison itself, as in the case of my meeting with a lawyer in a gas chamber, cells with cigarette smoke, the situation with books in Zhodzina, with letters in jail and prison No. 8.
You see, they steal letters, and no one is responsible for this. Hundreds of letters from my sister, dad, relatives simply did not reach them, as did mine. But there are egregious cases when I received a letter # 25 in December and # 65 in February (meaning from the same addressee). All were first-class letters with a first-class envelope inside with a total of 80 paid first-class envelopes. Neither the post office nor the chiefs were held accountable for this.
The second is the absence of music, which I love very much. The world of sounds that I have lived in for the past 30 years is very different from what I hear here. Lack of music is torture. My memory saves me: when I close my eyes, I listen to Bach, Mozart, and what I played myself.
- In the summer, you could not walk three meters around the city, so that people would not thank you or ask to be photographed. Are you a star in prison too?
- Undoubtedly, I feel increased attention to myself in everything: over the thoroughness of constant searches of me personally and my documents, a reinforced convoy, for a meeting with a lawyer "special" apartments (a special room for those sentenced to capital punishment), while there is practically no correspondence in both directions and not only to dad, but the letters do not even reach the court, the Prosecutor General's Office, UDIN, and the Ministry of Justice.
All this definitely testifies to a special attitude towards me.
- When was the last time you cried? Because of what?
- In December, when I learned about the death of my beloved uncle from the coronavirus. This is the saddest thing in imprisonment - in such tragic moments, you can't be close to loved ones.
- What’s the first thing you’ll do when you’re released?
- Immediately go to my grandma and grandpa with dad, then everything else.
- One gets the feeling that you are not afraid of anything. Are you afraid of anything?
- Like any normal person, I can feel fear from time to time. But fears are not connected with the prison, the KGB, and masked men. When you understand that those who are trying to intimidate you, in fact, are more afraid than you - the fear goes away with itself. Not right away, but it leaves.
- How not to be afraid of other people? Is there a practical recipe from Maryja Kalesnikava for how to learn not to be afraid?
- I learn not to be afraid of the very feeling of fear. I imagine the worst that could happen and say to myself "okay," and fear is gone.
- Do you think about what would you be doing now if you went abroad then and did not go to jail?
- I have never thought about it, that is, I have not considered this option.
- What do you dream about in prison?
- I sleep well and soundly, despite the bright light in the cell. I do not have dreams, although I may not remember them.
- Babaryka said in his recent interview that he plans to stand for election. And you? Are you going to stay on Babaryka's team and lead him to the election?
- I will support Viktar Dzmitryjevich and will be on the team because this is the best team in the world. Judge for yourself: in a month Viktar Dzmitryjevich and Eduard put together a dream team, and these are not just professionals of the highest class in their fields but also people for whom freedom, decency, dignity, and loyalty to their ideals are the principles of life.
Viktar Dzmitryjevich and Eduard have been behind bars for almost 9 months, half of the team too, some are forced to leave their families, homes, Belarus, and some heroically remained in Minsk. But the work did not stop for a day and we will not stop even in such conditions, continuing to go to victory. Damn right, I'm happy to be together! The whole team -you are Heroes! Keep it up! Love you!
- Many say that it was Babaryka and his headquarters who rocked this whole boat in the summer. Do you think so too?
- The contribution of Viktar Dzmitryjevich and his team to all subsequent changes that have happened to people and the country can hardly be overestimated. But it is important to remember that Belarusians are the most incredible people, they just needed someone to remind them of this.
- Do you believe that we can reach out to officials and security officials?
- I'm sure that we do. A person who calls himself a dictator does not trust anyone, knowing that he can be betrayed. And this is absolutely true. "Handsome men" will leave him without batting an eye. Who wants to be responsible for the blood, violence, and the collapse of the country along with him? That's right, nobody.
And all these endless "horror films" about tanks, machine guns, Ceausescu, Gaddafi from his lips are the surest confirmation of this. He is terrified because he knows that in the end he will be left all alone.