Mazyr on Prypiat – a Tygodnik Podhalański journalist, Jurek Jurecki, managed to talk to Franak Viachorka, a 21-year-old leader of BNF youth. He had only 25 minutes for the interview. Here’s a part of it:
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- How did you end up in here?
- For the past six years I’ve been attending all the opposition’s demonstrations. My father is one of the leaders of Belarusian opposition, and since last year I’ve lead BNF youth. And this is the only reason I was abducted and arrested, as well as thrown out of the university. The exams were held while I was imprisoned.
- Can we call it political call up?
- Well, I’m not the only political soldier. A couple of us is being detained in army camps, regardless the fact that our health makes service impossible. I’m one of the people unable to serve due to health problems – I suffer from extremely severe hypertension.
- How did the abduction look like?
- I was abducted in front of my house. Beaten up. As it was later stated, by “unknown attackers”. I was dragged to a military committee which somehow, in spite of all my medical documentation, found me fit for service. That’s all.
- How does an oppositionist’s army service look like in Belarus?
- I’m being isolated. No one would talk to me here. It was said they might get in trouble for doing so. I wouldn’t hear from my family, mother, father, for months. All my mail is being read, I receive opened envelopes. They want to break me in. People who serve together with me come from small villages. They do not know what the truth is, they want to join the army, police, or the special forces. It’s quite understandable – these are among the few organizations that always pay.
- Tell me about your daily routine here.
- We get up at 6am. Start the day with a so-called physical preparation and following breakfast: porridge that we call “siechka”, the one fed to the pigs in kolkhoz [collective farms], a piece of ‘hospital’ sausage and black tea. No fruits, no vegetables. Then we go to the ‘training’. Actually it’s only manual labor – we mow the grass, paint buildings, dig ditches. Monthly, we receive 8 US dollars. And still a part is subtracted for ‘inventory’, so left for me is 5 dollars. Enough for buns, sometimes candies. I’ve been here for six months and we did try shooting only once.
- What about sanitation in the camp?
- It’s horrifying. It’s not up to any standards. We’re allowed one shower a week.
- And what are the dreams of Franak Viachorka?
- We are living in our country as in prison, fed on the government’s propaganda. We have no prospects for the future. Being kept here, doing the army service, I painfully find a waste of my time. My dreams? I’d like to help my country improve itself. I dream of a free, democratic, European Belarus, where anyone can work, make an honest living, earn money. I dream of being able to go with my girlfriend to Vienna, Paris… and then have a coffee with her on the next day.
Any postcard, picturing a view, a cat, or anything else, will be Franak’s sustenance and reassurance, it’ll help him deal with the next day. All mail he receives is a proof that he’s not alone, that there’s someone remembering him, thinking of him. Please send him postcards to the following address: