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Signals And Signs

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Signals And Signs

Don't fuss under the client, man.

Both three days ago, and a week, and two weeks ago, I knew for sure that today I would be writing about Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk. Only I thought that I would write about something completely different. About her release to freedom (albeit a very relative one). About meeting with loved ones. About her first walk, not to the workshop, not to the punishment cell, but through the streets of her home city Brest — wherever she would cast her eye, without any particular purpose. About the first video conference session with her husband and children. About her courage. Unfortunately, all that was left of all of the above was courage.

Palina was not released for the third time in a row. Just imagine what it’s like: to wait three times for release, because the term is ending, everything “from bell to bell”, without any conditions or hopes for an amnesty, and three times not being able to leave, but instead of going home to be sent to a pre-trial detention center to get another sentence. A person counts the days, gives their things to those cell mates who remain, but then they come for this person: “Grab your things and go to transportation!” I'm trying to imagine it and I can't. I do not have enough imagination.

However, those who have been coming up with new ways to abuse political prisoners for years, have spectacular and even excessive imagination. If previously Palina was taken to a pre-trial detention center a month or two before the day of her release, this time they came up with a particularly sophisticated torture. On May 2, a trial was held in Rechytsa to establish preventive supervision. This meant that Palina was supposed to be released and a list of legal restrictions was drawn up in advance: do not leave the house in the evening, do not leave the city, come to check in, open the door at the first call, and so on. Moreover, the security officers came to her mother: this and that, inspection of the living quarters, are you willing to accept your daughter being released from prison, taking into account preventive supervision. This meant that there was no longer any doubt, Palina was being released.

On May 21, Palina’s relatives were already on duty at the colony at six in the morning. They waited. After a few hours it became clear that she would not come out. Palina’s mother went to the authorities’ offices, where they told her with an innocent look that the day before yesterday the prisoner Sharenda-Panasiuk had been taken somewhere, but they didn’t know where. Yeah, they didn't know. Some people just arrived and took her away — without any papers, without identification marks, random passers-by.

And then Palina’s relatives rushed to Homel, straight to the pre-trial detention center. They already understood everything. Of course, that’s where Palina was found. Investigated and arrested again. Relatives quickly ran to the store to collect the package, but they did not accept it. They said that already at eight in the morning an unknown well-wisher gave her exactly 30 kilograms — the monthly allowance — and that she was not entitled to anything more. I remembered how the last time, when Palina was brought to the pre-trial detention center to get another sentence, they treated her family in exactly the same way: the scoundrels gave the woman a 30-kilogram bag of beaten-up apples. “There are probably some beaten apples there again?” — I asked Palina’s husband Andrei Sharenda. “What kind of apples are there in May,” Andrei answered bitterly. “More like last year’s rotten potatoes...”

But you can’t whip up a criminal case under Article 411 in a day. This requires reports, recorded testimony of guard witnesses, and a lot of paper trash. This means that the scoundrels did everything at the same time: they conducted a trial on preventive supervision, and they came to Palina’s mother with serious looks on their faces, all this while preparing a new criminal case. Why, you ask? To kill. Kill at least morally. To make her feel like not just a prisoner, but a toy in their hands, a paper angel dangling on the state Christmas tree: if they want, they’ll take it off and put it in a box, if they want, they’ll crumple it up and in the trash, if they want, they’ll leave it hanging.

Even when it became known that Palina not only didn’t get out, but was found in a pre-trial detention center, I couldn’t believe it and looked for some clues, signals, signs even in propaganda trash heaps. Don't judge me, but I forced myself to watch Azaronak’s show. He enjoyed discussing Palina's new criminal case with some dusty guy. They were having fun. And the dusty guy said: our dearest law-enforcers did everything right, Sharenda-Panasiuk should not have been released from prison, otherwise she would have fled abroad and told about the torture there.

Don't fuss under the client, man. Palina will tell everything in her time, rest assured.

Iryna Khalip, exclusively for Charter97.org

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