Read 55 books and learnt how to do push-ups using one arm. Things that Andrei Chapiuk has achieved over a year in jail
For more than a year a volunteer of “Viasna” Andrei Chapiuk is detained in pre-trial jail. During this time he has read 55 books, has filled three writing books with the notes on a programming book and has learnt how to do push-ups with one arm. His girlfriend Alena says: passion for knowledge and diligence have always been the boy’s strongest points. But the first thing that she points out, when asked to describe Andrei, is his kindness and readiness to help at any time.
“He is ready to help friends and strangers alike – says Alena. – For example, when he was working at the “Galanteya” factory and was living in a dorm, there was a girl with a newborn baby living next to him. She was alone, so Andrei started helping her with everything he could – for instance, he put together a stroller for her. Also he regularly participated in the initiative whose members provide food to homeless people.
When the protests started, he was preparing parcels with essential supplies for arrested people, who had no one to help them. And prior to his own arrest he was worried that his father had not had a winter jacket: he wanted to earn some money and buy one. He didn’t get enough time”.
Apart from this, Alena says that Andrei is very patient and dedicated. For a long time he was working at the “Galanteya” factory, but he had lots of troubles because of his anarchist views; that’s why he decided to quit. For almost a year before his arrest he was learning a new IT profession and at the same time he was working part-time as a loader.
“Andrei was studying day and night – Alena recalls. – some of our friends, who had started studying with him, already quit, but he kept going. And keeps going now in jail. It is not allowed to send educational literature there, but he wrote that they had books on programming in the library; not on the programming languages he had studied earlier, but he is trying to grab the most beneficial information out of what he has. Andrei wrote that he had managed to request one book on programming, he had already read it and made a summary – it took 3 copybooks. As far as I understand, they have a limited amount of time for reading, so this is his way of preserving the knowledge”.
Andrei keeps doing sports: before arrest he was into Thai boxing, went to the gym, as well as practiced work-outs.
“Now he only has work-ins left, – Alena smiles. – He is practicing sit-ups on one leg, and he has already learnt how to do push-ups with one arm. There are also pull-up bars at walks, and moreover he adjusts to current conditions and uses items at hand for working out: for example, he is doing pull ups at his bed”.
In jail Andrei read more than 55 books: in addition to the programming, he is learning classics – not so long ago he read “What Is To Be Done?” by Chernyshevsky. Before arrest one of his favourite books was “The Art of Loving” by Fromm. And while in detention he enjoyed “Bushido”. Andrei’s cell has a TV, but he writes that it is more of a distraction. But in general he likes the show “Friends” a lot.
Also the guy is very interested in getting the news from IT sphere, so he will be very glad to discuss them in letters. There are troubles with letter communication from time to time, but Alena receives two or three letters weekly. In them the couple is discussing daily life and activities; they are also recalling the past. According to the girl’s words, this helps to maintain the relationship and support each other.
“In his letters he is trying to be happy about little things: he writes how he went for a walk and was glad to hear birds singing, - Alena says. – We recall our travels a lot: literally before the quarantine we managed to have a trip to Spain and Portugal – so we discuss memories after the trips. We also talk about hiking: Andrei loves nature, goes picking mushrooms and berries, and that’s why we often used to go hiking somewhere not far from Minsk. We also love hitchhiking”.
In letters Andrei asks about his pets – two guinea pigs. He loves animals, so he and his girlfriend decided to have pets, who can be easily left with someone while the two are traveling. They were heartily taking care of the pets, in strict accordance with all Internet instructions. Andrei himself invented a way how to make a big cage for them, and when he was coming home from work, he would fence off a special space for them to walk. Now he is missing them a lot. But the letters support him very much. Andrei writes that he is feeling the support of people he does and doesn’t know, and he is very grateful to receive parcels. He especially memorized a painting, which someone made for him and sent to the jail.
“My life has changed drastically over the past year. – Alena says. – Now I receive support from friends nearby and memories about the past. And also hope that one day all this will be over”.
You can support Andrei with letters, postcards, telegrams and money transfers at this address:
SIZO-1. 220030, Minsk, Valadarskaha str., 2
Andrei Siarheevich Chapiuk
Andrei Chapiuk – volunteer of human rights center “Viasna”. He was arrested on October 2 in Minsk by officers of GUBAZiK (Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the MVD of the Republic of Belarus).
All Andrei’s activities were exclusively of peaceful, human rights nature and they were aimed at helping people who are suffering for their political views and opinions, for protection of their rights.