Now it is crucial to keep the unity and solidarity of Belarusians.
May 31, 2021 marks a year since one of the opposition leaders Mikalai Statkevich has been held behind bars. He is still awaiting trial. He was detained at the start of the election campaign. A criminal case was opened with regard to him under two articles: “organizing protests” and “preparing for protests”.
The website Charter97.org contacted the wife of the political prisoner, Maryna Adamovich.
-Your husband has been held in prison for over a year by now. What was the latest news you received from him?
- We are constantly writing to each other, but, unfortunately, not all letters reach their addressees. During all this time, we had only one meeting. The news that I post on Facebook is often late.
Now Mikalai is in the Homel pre-trial detention center. He and his six “accomplices” - Siarheii Tsikhanouski, Artsiom Sakau, Dzmitry Papou, Ihar Losik, and Uladzimir Tsyhanovich - were transferred there for the so-called trial.
We are waiting for information when this trial begins. Despite the fact that more than a month has passed since the transfer of the case to the Homel Regional Court, there has been no news about who the judge is, or about the beginning of the hearings.
In the case, as Mikalai wrote in one of his letters, there are 178 “volumes”. Obviously, there are chats, public speeches, the content of Telegram channels, and so on. This is the level of investigation and case they are trying to trump up.
The last letter that I received from Mikalai testifies to the fact that literally immediately after our meeting, his confinement conditions were changed for the worse. I don't have more information yet. All I can do is take parcels to Homel.
- To what extent is Mikalai Statkevich informed about what is happening in Belarus?
- Since April, many political prisoners have been receiving information that the press, which is legally distributed through Belpost, is being taken away from them. Let me emphasize that this is a gross violation of the law.
Nevertheless, Mikalai is aware of the latest news. I mean, about the hijacking of the Ryanair plane, the death of Vitold Ashurak, the sentence to Pavel Seviarynets and the activists of the European Belarus.
My husband laughed that they specially brought him the newspaper “Sovbelka” to the cell, they say, “read the right newspapers, comrade,” but people like Mikalai know how to read correctly. So he is, in principle, informed.
In the last letter, my husband wrote that since all the press was taken away from him, he asks the people who write letters to him to tell the news from Belarus and the world.
I also want to add that in the new cell, to which he was transferred after, probably, they had listened to our conversations, there is not a single radio point. They try to arrange complete information isolation for him.
Mikalai believes, analyzing the situation in the country, that the authorities will very soon bring themselves to their logical end solely due to their actions. Even without our help, international sanctions, or economic blockade.
There is a well-known concept that 60% of successful revolutions over the past 10 years have resulted from the gross mistakes of governments and the usurping of power.
- Mikalai is one of those people who believed and still believes in Belarusians. What emotions did the August events evoke in him? Did he see footage of avenues filled with white-red-white flags?
- I will say that he got a TV set after August 9. On August 18, he was just convoyed to Zhodzina, and a TV set appeared there. However, I think he saw the photo in the newspapers. At that time, he was receiving Novy Chas. However, I know for sure that he heard the sounds of the actions.
On August 16, when the most enormous, probably, March took place, several thousand people approached the Valadarka pre-trial detention center. There was a rally, people chanted the names of political prisoners, including Mikalai. While in the basement cell, he heard his name chanted by Belarusians.
Of course, he was happy at that moment, as he is now that Belarusians showed what they really are. They showed themselves to be the people in which we have always believed. It is happiness, the hope that changes are inevitable, and that they will lead to changes in our country. Belarusians will finally get a chance for the state they deserve. My husband constantly writes about this in letters.
Of course, we are not saying that the situation will change right tomorrow, but we are ready to build our country ourselves.
- In total, Mikalai has already served 9 years in jail. You very often had and still have to be apart from him. How is communication established between you? Do you feel the solidarity of the people?
- In fact, it's hard to count how much time Mikalai spent behind bars. Because there were a huge number of administrative arrests, but according to rough estimates, it really is 8.5 - 9 years.
This time, when Mikalai is behind bars just like a person captured, forcibly held in custody, has dragged on, but there are still some rules.
When a person is not sentenced, at least every day you can bring parcels, even, conditionally, one apple. Nobody can deny you this. Therefore, every week you pass at least something so that even in the worst times, when they don’t pass letters to the prisoner, he knows that you are there, and will always support him.
Everyone whose relatives are under the so-called investigation is using it. Such a bitter joy that you can somehow help a person. Although my husband sometimes gets angry, like, “I don’t need so much, I don’t eat that much.” He says that he understands that this is one of the ways to somehow show love and care, but sometimes he says that it is not necessary that much.
When the sentence comes into effect, as it was from 2010 to 2015, it's a different story. In those years, Mikalai was almost immediately deprived of everything that was possible. He quickly ended up in a punishment cell, and when he was sent there for three years, during the first year of the strict regime it was one parcel post and one short three-hour meeting a year!
In fact, it is very difficult. You can only support him with letters, visits from a lawyer, because this is the only person he is allowed to see. To do something understandable for him, like, for example, our friends arranged fireworks near the Mahiliou prison on his birthday.
We used radio greetings for a while, until it stopped, to get the message out, but now it's mostly letters.
- Can you give a piece of advice to the people who have a loved one in captivity? What helps you?
- For a long time we are absolutely sure that the best position is resistance. Do not try to negotiate, do not try to find workarounds, but stand straight, stick to your position. This is the most reliable stance in the long run.
The main thing is not to be silent. Silence is the most disastrous strategy for a political prisoner and their family.
Stay true to your beliefs, ideals. Everything will definitely be fine.
- Mikalai Statkevich is a man of tremendous courage. He has always inspired people to fight. Maybe you have words from him that could inspire Belarusians?
- You know, he constantly writes something for the people. I always post this on social networks, but during our meeting he asked me to convey to people that the most important thing now is to preserve the unity and solidarity of Belarusians that they have demonstrated over the past year.
He said that let it be the most innocent form of association - a partnership of flower growers or adherents of a healthy lifestyle, but you need to understand that very soon we may need this for our new, beautiful, beloved Belarus.