Ales Bialiatski: "Basic unit became 100,000 rubles and prisoners may be the only people who are glad about it"
In one of his first letters from a working brigade of
the Babruisk colony the human rights defender describes new circumstances, to
which he is trying to adapt. He writes as usual, with subtle self-irony and the
ability to note funny situations and characters in any life circumstances.
In his letter of 2 April Ales Bialiatski writes that he was transferred to the 14-th brigade of Babruisk penal colony #2 almost two weeks ago. "The situation here is different from the quarantine, too. This is a working brigade. Correspondingly, the regime is adapted to the 1st or the 2nd shift. Last week there was the 1st shift, which means that we were awoken at 5.30 a.m. and had breakfast at 6.10 a.m. Then there was inspection, and at 8.00 we were already at work. There is a sawing workshop there, that's where I work. At first I was appointed an apprentice to a packager. During the two days of my study I managed to learn how to package mittens. Only the packaging of working overalls was left for learning, when suddenly there came another order – to transfer me to a sewing machine. There is no difference for me – packaging or a sewing machine. The only thing is that I don't see the eye of the needle that well now... I started doing it for the first time in my life: speeded and started blazing away as a blind machine-gunner. I was sawing without seeing whether I was doing it right. On Saturday I was already sawing some working caps. I hope their owners won't curse me too much :)," writes Ales.
Ales has little leisure time, during which he writes letters and reads. For instance, he reads classical novels on weekends and Marina Tsvetayeva (whom he calls a very "literary poetess") – a little before going to bed.
However, poetry borders on prose of life: "Tomorrow I will have my first shopping here. According to the new measures [the Criminal-Executive Code, which regulates the prisoners' rights, there is an opportunity to "spend 5 basic units from a personal account on buying foodstuffs and essentials"], the basic unit became 100,000 rubles, and prisoners may be the only people who are glad about it..." Ironically proceeding from "trifle habitual problems" to the "protracted spring-come", Ales looks in the window: "Dry snow is falling outdoors and the wind is driving white serpentines on black asphalt. During the quarantine we walked under the spring sun everyday. However, now there is either no sun or it shows seldom again."
With hopes for the better, Ales Bialiatski passes greetings to all his friends and acquaintances. He says: "See you".