LETTERS FROM LUKASHENKA'S PRISONERS

Giving a voice to those imprisoned unjustly in Belarus

Following a highly disputed election, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenka claimed victory in August 2020. Protests erupted and a vicious crackdown ensued. One year since the election, there are more than 600 political prisoners in Belarus.

Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners gives unjustly detained individuals a voice by collecting, translating, and publishing letters on our channels on a weekly basis.

Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners is a collaborative project by Index on Censorship in partnership with Belarus Free Theatre, Human Rights House Foundation and Politzek.me.

Rastsislau Stefanovich

Designer and architect
Detained on 28 September 2020

"[Being apart from you] does not bring joy, so something needs to change :) But I hope you and the kids are using this time for personal development. Gaining experience in life without "Daddy", solving new problems on your own, learning to enjoy everything that happens."

Click here to read Rastsislau's letter

Maria Kalenik

Student
Detained on 12 November 2020

"I am so grateful to you for being there, always around, even if I don't see you for a long time. I feel your love and care in every postcard, in every package, in every letter..."

Click here to read Maria's letter

Pavel Seviarynets

Politician and writer
Detained on 7 June 2020

"Your grandfather was a man of light, talent, kindness and generosity...It was he who explained to me that our mother tongue was Belarusian and that Belarus should be independent."

Click here to read Pavel's letter

Pavel Mazko

Clothing designer and charity worker
Detained on 23 March 2021

"In prison, the only time you don’t feel the prison atmosphere is in your dreams...Most people who aren’t in prison have a negative mentality - they can't live in the present or distract themselves from their mediocre problems."

Click here to read Pavel's letter

Andrei Aliaksandrau

Journalist and human rights defender
Detained on 12 January 2021

"I wonder if Santa will appreciate the fact that I've been eating well and leading a proper lifestyle. Thanks to you, and other good people, my conscience is clear."

Click here to read Andrei's letter

Hanna Vishniak

Volunteer, Drivers-97
Detained on 28 October 2020

"My brain is being purged, and cannot remember the words of my favourite songs, poems, or even the names of my favourite actors..."

Click here to read Hanna's letter

Ihnat Sidorchyk

Film director, actor and poet
Detained on 10 August 2020

"You could call it a place where time stands still. People are tortured by time...you feel like a boy forgotten in a park on a Ferris wheel."

Click here to read Ihnat's letter

Katsyaryna Andreeva

Journalist
Detained on 15 November 2020

"I do not feel anger, resentment, or a desire for revenge towards those who made the decision to do this to me. What do I feel? Pity for them following orders."

Click here to read Katsyaryna's letter

Danila Hancharou

Lighting designer
Detained on 15 March 2021

"The prison 'community' is fertile ground for myths. Any grain of information, even dried out and broken, grows quickly here. It sprouts a mutant. A Hydra with the body of a kitten and the stately gaze of an orc."

Click here to read Danila's letter

Ksenia Syramalot

Student
Detained on 23 November 2020

"I'd really enjoy re-reading Harry Potter, although it's clearly not at the forefront [of my mind] right now :). I think I would see my release in the Mirror of Erised now. I often try to imagine it."

Click here to read Ksenia's letter

Elena Talkacheva

Journalist
Detained on 18 May 2021

"It can't go on like this for much longer, it just can't. I know we will endure it with dignity, though it is not easy for all of us, on this side of the fence and on the other. Then we will laugh, cry, and shout, but we will do it together."

Click here to read Elena's letter

Elena Talkacheva

Levon Khalatrian

Bar manager
Detained on 11 August 2020

"I often think about my past life and question what is happening, but every time I come to the same conclusion – that it is irreversible, necessary, and that change is inevitable."

Click here to read Levon's letter

Marfa Rabkova

Volunteer coordinator
Detained in September 2020

"At the moment, my life is all black. I thought I’d reached the bottom. But I was wrong, it wasn’t the bottom."

Click here to read Marfa's letter

Maxim Znak

Lawyer
18 September 2020

"Did I call publicly? To revolt? I? At least accuse me publicly. Conspiracy? With whom, how and when?"

Click here to read Maxim's letter

Volha Takarchuk

Political vlogger
Detained on 19 May 2021

"I keep waiting for the day when I want to live again. You wrote about smiling. I know that, but it's so difficult here. Everything here has become meaningless without children, life is no fun."

Click here to read Volha's letter

Aliaksandr Vasilevich

Businessman
Detained on 28 August 2020

"Penguin and Papa paced nonstop from wall to wall. To the guards above, they must have looked like zombies flailing around the little courtyard in desperation :) The cement walls are in bad condition, and there’s a lattice overhead, and a few green leaves higher up along the walls. Sometimes good things can grow, even in cement."

Click here to read Aliaksandr's letters

Maria Kalesnikava

Musician and political activist
Detained on 9 September 2020

"The court hearing took place today [Dad] so I already know how you had to ‘get changed’ – I bet everybody in the detention centre could hear me laugh!"

Click here to read Maria's letter