“I earn 900 rubles a day”.

“Let’s step aside. I’ll even take off my mask!”

Security officials often speak to Belarusians on their initiative when they grab them on the streets, beat them in a police van, and at Okrestina prison. And more often, it’s: “B*tch,” “You’re f*cked,” “You wanted changes? Here they are”. But Belarusians don’t lose faith in finding something human in them. Whenever they meet security officials at peaceful protests, they try to speak with them as with ordinary people. The Village Belarus collected some successful stories when police officers came into contact and answered Belarusians’ questions with words, not with a baton.

PAVEL VEINIK:

“Here is a fresh analysis of a conversation with the military guard protecting the WWII museum. The dialogue was going through the fencing and barbed wire. There were 7–10 meters between us. Behind him, there were 15–25 people, apparently ordinary soldiers. They were staying and listening. He was under 30, active, emotional, an officer. All of them had no insignia. On their belts, there were empty leather straps to which the batons should be attached.

From the guys who were going away from them, I knew that they were reading Telegram, and they even showed some Telegram chats. From a distance. He said that he had his own opinion. And I said that there was a difference between our views. Mine was just stuck up in the ass. He perked up, thinking I was assaulting him, but then calmed down. He didn’t care about my opinion. It wasn’t even cheerful for him. It can sound funny, but I had to check if he had high levels of need by Maslow’s hierarchy.

I asked: “How much do you earn?” At first, he told me that he got 900 rubles per day and then that he did it for the best of motives.

He could not tell what kind of motives and started forwarding this question to me, but then said: “It’s for the nation.”

He said that we are all violating some order and demonstrated knowledge of the Constitution.

I asked what they were protecting. He started telling something about the flag and collaborationists. I took it as a getting off-topic. Although I had answers for him (thanks to Katz): Russia, France, and other countries are now using the flags under which collaborators performed in WWII. By the way, he asked me if I knew the word collaborationist.

I asked him: “Did you beat people?” He said that he didn’t. And on the question “And who beat them?” he replied, “Riot police did” and waved his hand. In another conversation a couple of weeks ago, a riot policeman said that the riot police did not beat people either.

When asked what type of troops he belongs to, he said: “To army.” I got no details, even though I was asking and trying to manipulate, saying, “Are you afraid?” But apparently, this was the special forces.

He asked me what my job was and how much I earned. I replied that I was an IT specialist, and even from the taxes I paid, any of them could get a salary (in fact, I don’t know). It moved the minds of people in uniform. They looked depressed like “I can never do this.” I mentioned it to test their reaction to money and to provoke them. I wanted to promote a requalification to them: “Do you want to earn that much? And you won’t need to beat anyone.” But he didn’t reply.

He said that he’s paying taxes, 13%. It’s weird, is he an entrepreneur? If he is a civil servant, then 52% of the salary should be paid. But hindsight is 20/20.

He got back to talking about “it’s for the nation.” I said that half a million people were coming, weren’t they a nation? There was no reply. He turned his back on me. There was a fear in the eyes of the guys who were staying behind him. I should’ve continued the topic: “Don’t be afraid. They will punish only those who violated the Constitution” and should’ve specified the articles and quotations. I should’ve added that there is no reason to punish the one who didn’t break the law. But again, hindsight is 20/20. Maybe you’ll need it in the future. You can add that there are ways to identify people even if they are wearing masks by their gait, figure, movements. That is how the Chinese control their citizens.

He was like: “Let’s step out, I even take off my mask!” replying to some other guys who were trying to talk to him as well. He was boasting that he didn’t even have protection. The guys rejected his offer for sure, and he felt like a winner. And we could see the real joy in the faces of the guys in uniform. The right answer would be: “You are stronger than me. I am afraid to step out with you. I will be punished for the fight with you. You better answer aloud so that the people here and there could hear. Can you answer with words, or are you only able to use this silly force?” Then he let the guys in the same uniform take him away. He saved his face like a man. And for sure, the provocation “You’re not afraid when you are there, but try to come out here” didn’t work.

Conclusions:

-They engage and try to convince us in their point of view. Just like we do.

-The need for money is active, and there is no hope to meet it.

-The fear is very strong.

-There is a culture of “I am a man” and “Let’s step out.”

-The high levels of need by Maslow’s hierarchy are inactive. The need for belonging is met by being a part of their society but is being destroyed by compromised security. There is a fear of physical harm. When a low need is not met, a high one cannot be satisfied normally.

Emotional conversation and humiliation don’t work, of course. Only arguments in their language and their culture, physical strength, physical violence, money, and being a man.

julia 97% @j_matuzova

The protectors from the Cascade complex were trying to talk to a guy from a riot police today:

-You do know about falsifications, violence at the Akrestsina detention center, kidnapping from the streets. How can you sleep at night?

My wife and I sleep really well. I don’t know about all this, and I don’t want to know. I watch films and relax in the evenings.

@Polina_Saturday:

“Yesterday I got surrounded by the riot police. Women were immediately asked to leave, they were taking men only, but we stayed and locked arms in a women chain. The riot police were circling around and had no clue how to get through it. Spoiler: they have passed. Below are two observations from conversations with the riot police:

The guy who was younger and apparently without any status said to disperse, otherwise “it will be worse, there will be blood.” I replied to him harshly: “So you are basically telling me that you’ll beat me and I’ll have blood running if I stay?” He said: “No-no, that’s not what I meant” and left quickly.

The older guy and had a lot of police radios in the discussion was like: “You are all being paid. By the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania.”

“But the Czech Republic doesn’t have so much money to pay all of us.”

Sviatlana St @KainSv

At the beginning of the match, I talked to a man with a shield, and it was incredible from the start: “Do you want to be as it was in Ukraine?” till the end: “I serve the state, not the people.” At least he was honest. Perhaps that’s all we need to know about these people.

@baba_beda:

“Believe it or not, I made the riot policeman cry today.

So it was raining in Baranovichi, and everyone was hiding at the movie theatre “Oktyabr.” No one chanted anything. But there was one old lady (a Lukashenko’s supporter) there, and she was complaining, “Why are you staying here?”. But there were only a few people with white-red-white flags there, that’s it.

And imagine what? The riot police and police, 3 prison trucks came and were going to take us away. By the way, there were some people with small kids who were just hiding from the rain there.

They started taking us one by one. The ones with the flags were taken first. We all locked arms in a chain, and people with kids ran into the theatre. Guess on whom they unlocked the chain?

Right, on freaking me.

Thanks to the guy who was taking me by the waist, they didn’t take me away. By the way, someone took off the mask from the root policeman who unlocked the chain. I’m looking forward to seeing his face in my nightmares.

In the end, they could take only 3 people out of 40 who were staying at the “Oktyabr” theatre. They were recording all of us. And who was on the first row? My mom and I, of course.

And also, when the fight started, I got a breakdown and started crying and screaming, “it’s a shame” and that they were violating human rights.

Then when we were able to lock our arms in a chain again, one of the policemen, who was looking at me crying and screaming “let them go” and that they were not people but animals, bursted into tears as well.

Another mister in uniform was staring at me without blinking.

Then they let us go, but the square was sealed off.”

Daria @intelligentnaya

Sex is a good thing, of course, but have you ever tried to scream in a riot policeman face, “How much does conscience cost?”

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Voices from Belarus

Voices from Belarus

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