‘Cold, Hunger, Rats’ – Franak Viachorka about Conditions in Akrestsin Jail
Franak Viachorka, the chair of the cultural commission of the BPF Party, has been expelled from the journalistic faculty of Belarusian State University for poor academic progress. He did not manage to pass his exams in time because of 15-day arrest for ‘dirty swearing in public’.
The BSU authorities did not consider his arrest as a satisfactory reason for absence at the exams. He had to pass the two remaining exams on profile subjects to special examination commission and in both cases received unsatisfactory marks.
The first two days reminded torture
Franak Viachorka was sentenced to 15 days of jail for alleged use of four-letter words during the entrepreneurs’ action of protest that took place on 10 January. ‘We did not eat and drink anything for two days. The guards did let to pass neither water nor bread to us. We were kept in the court till 9 p.m. and then – till 2 a.m. in Tsentralny district police department of Minsk. Then we were transferred to the prison in Akrestsin Street.
There Viachorka Jr. faced other problems, which he formulates in three words: hunger, cold and rats. ‘Hunger – because you are fed either with porridge or some agricultural wastes, whereas the instruction on maintenance of prisoners includes about 100 different foodstuffs.’
‘You get used to this smell’
According to Franak, not more than five paragraphs of the instruction are really implemented. ‘There is a doctor, who allegedly measures everyone’s temperature and blood pressure, and all prisoners, even if they are really ill, are having 36,6 C all the time. The blood pressure is 120 by 80. Even I had 120/80, though my usual is 145/95. She has two medicines - analgine and paracetamol – as a panacea from all illnesses.’
A visit to doctor, says Franak Viachorka, is the only possibility for a prisoner to breathe normal air: ‘For instance, I can’t get rid of the specific Akrestsin smell. It is impossible to explain what smell this is. There is something of toilet smell – urine and excrements, something burned, cigarette smoke, the smell of tramps – a real stench. You get used to it when sitting in the cell, but as soon as you go out you realize how inhumane this smell is. It is hardly bearable in normal conditions. But you get used to it in jail, as Belarusians get used to what is going on in their country,’ points the activist.