Famous athletes Andrei Kravchenko and Ivan Ganin were released today after 10 days of arrest in Zhodino, Belarus.
Andrey Kravchenko is the silver medalist of the Olympic Games in decathlon. Ivan Ganin is a multiple champion of Belarus in Thai boxing and kickboxing.
Both athletes have repeatedly expressed their views on political and social issues in Belarus. They spoke out against violence and for fair elections.
Kravchenko and Ganin are also members of the Free Association of Athletes.
Let us remind you that they were detained on November 8 in the parking lot near the National School of Beauty.
Olympic silver medalist Andrey Kravchenko, who was released today after a ten-day arrest, spoke about his detention and the time spent in Zhodino.
— We got out of the McDonald's on Maxim Tank, got into the car and tried to drive away, but the security forces immediately jumped up and pulled us out of the car. They tightened the ties, started asking for names, and then took them to a courtyard. There was a riot police officer who spoke to me quite adequately, but then another riot police officer ran up from somewhere and hit my friend Pasha in the face with all his strength.
I stood and looked at the ground, raised my head a little, and immediately received the same blow on the temple, after which he shouted to me: "What are you doing here, organism?» All this was accompanied by constant obscenities. I explained that I just left the McDonald's and then this riot policeman threatened Pasha: "I want to hit you with my left so that you die, but I won't get my hands dirty." There was some inexplicable cruelty. After that, I was dragged into the bus.
There, another riot police officer even tried to be human. He allowed me to stretch my legs, held me on turns. Then we were transferred to the Gazelle and taken to the police Department. There we stood for 14-15 hours facing the wall. At about four o'clock in the morning, we were sent to the cell, and half an hour later we were sent to Zhodino, having previously tied our thumbs with a screed. And so we were taken there head-first. All the car parks had white-red-white flags on the floor.
In Zhodino, we were led along a corridor with a blinking light, like in a horror movie. So we walked 50-60 meters in single file, after which we were put in a half-Crouch and forced to squat. The first approach was 150 times. Then they put me in a half-Crouch again. After that, we went to the next corridor, where we were forced to do squats with jumps. I don't remember how many times this happened, but by this time many of them were just lying around. You know, it was very difficult for me, as an athlete, and many people are simply not prepared.
So, everyone was told to put their hands on the shoulders of the next person. It turns out that those who could still squat, had to also lift a person who was no longer able to stand up. On the floor where we were registered, we had to crawl on all fours — this is the most humiliating.
-Did someone recognize you?
-Yes, there was one person in the police Department. He said that he watched the Olympics and wondered how I ended up here. I assured them that I would be acquitted, but in the end they still gave me ten days. Although at some point we were placed separately. They were probably deciding what to do with us. Then they took off my ties, explaining that I was a respected person. They also wanted to hold an ideological conversation with me, but it never took place, which I am very happy about. I'd already heard enough by then.
-When did you manage to eat?
-Only on Monday. About seven o'clock in the evening. The mattresses were given on Wednesday night. Initially, there were about 20 of us in the cell. Then they were placed in cells of eight. After that, three slept on the floor, three on a mattress, and two on bunks that were welded from iron corners and sheets. It was a complete mess. I didn't sleep at all for two nights.
We were given four mugs of tea for eight people. The lights were always on. From six to ten in the evening, you could only stand or sit on the bench.
On Thursday, we were given towels and sheets. I know that they gave me a package, but they didn't give it to me. So I was wearing the same things for ten days. I was taken out to wash for the first time on Friday, but I couldn't do it, because there were no replacement items.
-Did your cellmates recognize you?
-Yes, many did. I would also like to note that I have sat with great people. I had teachers, managers, engineers, and artists with me. The most worthy people of the country. As they say, if you want to see the best people, go to jail.
On Sunday, to support the protest, we tapped to the rhythm of " long live Belarus!» It was so nice!
-Did you get any news?
-No, only today they told about the death of Roman Bondarenko(note.: Roman Bondarenko was beaten by Lukashenka's supporters and died in hospital). The horror! But this only increases the anger and determination.
-You were released a few hours early. How did you find out about this?
-They just told us to get ready this morning. Strange, because the others were released exactly at the time of detention. They probably guessed that we would be met, because yesterday the guards talked among themselves about us with Vanya Ganin.
-Is it true that he was beaten?
-Yes, at the moment of squatting, he smiled, and then the guard hit him in the stomach. Vanya had already taken a stand, but restrained himself. Of course, it was unpleasant for him, because if he had the will, he would have shown himself.
In prison, Vanya read Dostoevsky's "Idiot", and I read Alexandra Romanova's "give love".
The main conclusion of these days for me is that everyone remains in solidarity. Everyone understands that unacceptable things are happening, that it is impossible to continue like this. I didn't see a single person there who would give up their opinion. People don't lose faith.