The letter below was sent by Maria to her mother ahead of Mother’s Day, which is on 14 October in Belarus. Maria refers to photos of her mother, which seem to have been professionally taken during a “photoshoot”, and expresses her wish to see all the photos. Prisoners are only allowed to have two photographs with them at any one time, hence why all the photos couldn’t be sent at once. Maria also refers to a recent time that she saw her mother during a visit she made to the prison. Certain prisoners are sometimes allowed visits from their relatives, but this is very rare. Maria’s love and admiration for her mother is evident in her letter, and she says she feels better after seeing her.
Following the illegitimate 9 August 2020 presidential election, protests erupted across Belarus, prompting an unprecedented crackdown from the authorities which continues unabated. One year since the election, hundreds of political prisoners remain in the country.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners, gives unjustly detained individuals a voice by collecting, translating, and publishing letters on our channels. This campaign is a collaborative project by Belarus Free Theatre, Index on Censorship, Human Rights House Foundation and Politzek.me.
Read more about Maria Kalenik and other Belarusian political prisoners here.
Translations are available in Russian and Belarusian here.
The note below the letter is the sign-off from a letter she sent to her mother in September. You can see the original letter, which has a little drawing of a woman sitting alone on the floor, in blue below.
Hello, my dear Mammy!
Happy Mother’s Day to you!
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 and in the words from our meeting. You are very beautiful and the photos from your photoshoot only highlighted your incredible beauty and femininity. They promised they’d send me second batch of photos and I’m so looking forward to it! I’m sure the photoshoot convinced you that you are special and unbelievable! I burst into tears when I saw it, just with the love that I have for you 🙂
I was really happy to see you, you haven’t changed at all, just more smiley 🙂 And after talking to Dad and Pauline, I realised that I had nothing to worry about, you’re very strong and you handle stress super well, even though you never really displayed your worries. I believe [Dad and Pauline] willingly!
I admire you so much and I feel much better for a long time after seeing you, because I understand that we will see each other again after some time and we have to wait again, but soon it will be over and we will be together again.
I put an orchid in the envelope, it was sent to me by a very nice woman who happens to know you 🙂
Let’s pretend that I gave you a bouquet, which you will keep better than I did in prison. Mammy, I love you very much and I miss you very much. And thank you for everything.
I’m sending you kisses and a big hug ❤️
Love you very, very much, kisses and hugs! See you soon, Mammy ❤️
Waiting for the letter! I’m so looking forward to it.