“I am still ashamed in front of that girl”: story of a former riot police officer.

Flashmob #notmypresident (#немойпрезидент) collects stories told by the Belarusians addressed to the acting President about the reasons they do not recognize the existing authorities. Unexpectedly, law enforcement officers of different divisions joined the flashmob. Photographs started to spread on the Internet with the law enforcement officers expressing solidarity with the people: near the shoulder straps, sheets of paper are placed saying “Lukashenko is not my President”, “I am 97%, I stand with the people”, “Sasha 3% is not my choice”, “Free Babariko”, “I gave an oath to the people, not the cockroach”, and the like.

The photo shows the employee of Emergency Situations Ministry of The Republic of Belarus

Besides, after another wave of detentions of protesters in Minsk, 15 OMON [riot police] officers submitted their letters of resignation. “The order to confront their own people was the last straw,” said the press piece.

Stories of the former MIA officers, OMON officers and officers from other divisions started to appear on Instagram, too. They tell why they’ve left the profession and why they’re still ashamed. We publish one of them here:

“The moment of my greatest shame happened on July 3, 2011. It was Independence Day, clapping protests in Minsk, a man next to me dressed in civilian clothes kicked a girl on the legs, she fell to the ground, the man picked her up by her hair and threw her in the bus. My heart said, “Knock the jerk out!” but my brain replied, “He is law enforcement, you can ruin your life”. So I froze, just like Harry Potter’s opponent paralyzed with a spell.

Having graduated from the Belarusian State University, Department of Law, I was a lieutenant of the reserve and gave an oath to the Belarusian people. Then I worked as a contractor in the public prosecutor’s office and as an investigation officer at the Investigative Committee. I can’t say I feel ashamed for that part of my life. But not everyone is so lucky as me.

But there is the other side of the coin. Employees are considered slaves. There is no personal freedom, no free time, no right to speak up. There are only hellish work and humiliating payment. You’re indoctrinated: you are nothing. People give up on themselves and a better world.

If your fear of losing your job is the reason to violate your conscience, you should quit your job. This step can help you avoid the situation when, googling your name, your children would find out the harsh truth about their dad that would make them feel embarrassed.

Many people ask me about my path from being an investigation officer to becoming an IT developer. On Twitter, I shared a post about helping with re-training law enforcement officers. Dozens of people texted me that they would be happy to mentor, teach, and help find the job. They would like to help everyone who has to leave the job for the sake of conscience. So we are launching a new project bychange.me.

If you want to help, mentor or teach, text me. If you need a hand, feel free to ask for help. We have people who have been helping for a long time. Every day at the IT office, I meet former law enforcement officers, scouts, investigators, doctors, and prosecutors. Like me, they spent 5–6 years getting a diploma but then had to shelve it. They got out and started living fully again. If they managed to cope with the situation, you will definitely succeed. Seriously.

PS. I am still ashamed in front of that girl. This shame always remains with men.”

This is article contains a translation of the instargam post previously published by Eugeny Yushkevich on the 25th of June, 2020.

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Voices from Belarus

Stories of people hoping for a democratic Belarus. Created, translated and moderated by a collective of independent authors.