«Only women can go out! All the men stay inside!»
It seemed that the riot policeman with a megaphone would repeat his speech in German.
A Resident of Minsk Mickail Dulko was one of 1000 detained during the protests on November 8. The next day he was released, his punishment was a penalty of 15 base values (405 Belarusian rubles or 158,30 dollars). That’s what he’s writing about his detention.
“Considering that 13 marchs has already been organized , it should have happened one day — so it has happened. I was detained on Sunday, November 8.
For those who like to read the news briefly: I’m okay. For me, this story wasn’t too hard, a day later I was released from Zhodzina prison with the obligation to pay a penalty of 15 base values.
Now, on November 10, I’m sitting in a car near this place, Zhodzina prison, and waiting for a release of my friend. On Sunday, he was with me but for some reason, he wasn’t judged yet. Maybe because there were 700 people on the list of detainees of Zhodzina prison in the morning of November 10, and apparently only two judges worked yesterday.
There is nothing to do here, near the Zhodzina prison, so for those of you who like the particularities, I’ll go over the details of my adventures.
On Sunday November 8 we were going to Minsk city hall.
Here they already dispersed all the protesters. We need to go to Stela (Minsk Hero City Obelisk) — said someone of us or those who sympathise.
From the Holy Spirit Cathedral, we had a panoramic view of Svislach river: on the lawns along one riverside, the riot policemen were hunting the protesters. Here and there on the ground, they were punching the people. The police buses were circulating close to them so that they could drag the detained there. The biggest part of the “ours” was displaced to another riverside, away from us. Along the river, there were not more than 1000 persons. But we saw that the policeman didn’t let the people cross the bridges and arrive at Palace of Sports.
So we went to Stela. Observing all those detentions and the number of riot policemen around (you try to move on, to squeeze through them — “I’m sorry”, “May I”, “Make way”) we could conclude that the probability to sleep at home this night wasn’t very high.
Near Stela, there were several thousand of protesters. They tried not to approach the roadway, so they crowded near “Planeta” hotel.
Alongside “Planeta”, there is a coffee shop takeaway. So we decided to go there and get a coffee.
With a glass in my hands, drinking my cappuccino, I was watching how from all the cracks, from all the backstreets, from nowhere were coming the riot policemen in black looking like the spacemen with their outfit. They were coming very quickly. And they knew very well what every one of them should do. They closed every exit, every door, every manhole. From my position, I couldn’t see the scope of this operation, but afterwards I evaluated: they closed all the accesses to Stela for less than two minutes. When we finished our coffee and decided that it was time to leave, there was no way to leave anymore. We were standing in the middle of it — the crowd was waving in a panic searching for escapes from this trap. Between those waves were running the riot policemen of all types and outfits. They were detaining the people, and it was not clear how they chose who to detain.
One senior woman was crying and yelling to their chief:
“Why can’t I go out here? Here it’s closer to my home! I have heart disease! Let me go!”
He didn’t let her go.
“The exit is there,” he waved in the direction of the hotel “Yubileiny.”
Everyone who had heard this conversation, including us, was going to this hotel. And there we finally understood the catastrophe’s scope: there were no exits, that was a real trap, like for the animals — everything was closed. And everything was black because of all these riot policemen. They were not just placed where it was needed; they were spread around in a thick layer. That was like a scene of a battle, and they looked like roman legions. At least two-three lines of them covered every exit. Inside of the perimeter, they continued to detain nonstop. From the side of Mieĺnikajte street was stretched the barbed wire. Behind it, one riot policeman was telling in the loud-speaker:
“Only women can go out! All the men stay inside! Men, not even try to go out!”
It seemed that this riot policeman with a megaphone would pronounce his text in Russian and then repeat it in German.
A thin stream of gloomy women was oozing through the organized passage. We’ve used this stream to make a girl who was with us go out. I gave her my mobile phone and the keys to my car.
The atmosphere: women are crying behind the barbed wire, men are bidding farewell to their comrades-in-arms and are giving them the last instructions, my friend is crying her eyes out: “I’ll stay with you!”, the screams and the groans everywhere inside of the perimeter; the lines of soldiers are squeezing the space; one riot policeman is speaking to his megaphone.
Kurbakou (the new Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus) can be proud of himself: he’s organized a perfectly designed police operation. He will have something to brag to his friends, relatives and everyone who will appreciate that “our service is both dangerous and difficult” (a quote from one soviet song about the police).
We went to take places in the nearest police truck. One moment later, we were taken by the arms and detained. One policeman just said to us: “You have to go with me.” They didn’t beat us.
For those of you who till now don’t know how a police truck looks inside: there are some little compartments on the right and the left — they look like some wardrobes — and in the back of the truck there is a bigger compartment with a bars door.
We were lead to this back compartment, and at the same time, the police truck moved off. Maybe they were waiting only for us.
“Guys, count yourself,” was an order of a guard.
We counted: in the back compartment there were 7 persons, at all in the truck something like 25.
One person didn’t feel well: “I have a heart disease, I’m suffocating.”
He was released from his cell allowed to sit near the guard.
Meanwhile, it’s well past 3.00 PM. The volunteers tell that not many detained have been released and ask not to crowd in front of the exit. I’m waiting…