In the letter below, from October 2021, Rastsislau writes to his wife about the importance of staying positive during these difficult times. He stresses the fact that there is beauty in everything and that, although he no longer has freedom of movement, he feels free to make his own decisions. In the final paragraph, Rastsislau seems to suggest that he would stay in prison even if he were released (“It would be a mistake to rush, to drop everything…”), but then he makes clear that he is only joking.
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 Rastsislau Stefanovich and other Belarusian political prisoners here.
Translations are available in Russian and Belarusian here.
Hello my beloved!
I’m fine, “I’m fine, I’m fine!” – it immediately reminds me of the octopus from “Finding Nemo” 🙂 How are you doing?
In fact, it works: if we can’t change the current situation, we can certainly change our attitude toward it. I want to be an example that you can have both a negative and a positive attitude. Out of habit, it might seem that there are exceptions, but there really is good in everything.
I believe that we live for joy and personal development. My experience only confirms this. I can’t imagine how anyone can argue with such a simple statement 🙂
Measure everything that you do and what happens to you according to these two principles: Does it bring you joy? Is it contributing to your development? Do it! Keep doing well and don’t stop! If one condition is not being met, think about it. Something needs to change. And if there is no joy or personal development – immediately slow down! The main thing is to remember that you need to change yourself, and to not try to change everyone around you.
I miss you a lot. [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.
I try to develop myself and to not waste time. Life has not been put on pause and “killing time” is a big waste. Judging by the fact that I do not have enough time every day – it works.
Don’t you have time to read? I read for the two of us. Beforehand I didn’t have time either. Now I have time to paint just for fun. Freedom of movement is gone but there is freedom to write poetry. Now there’s freedom to choose my own path, new goals.
Look inside yourself, look around, listen, pay attention to what makes you feel good. This will become a habit. Get into the habit of seeing the good, the beautiful, the good. It’s also a good thing to form useful habits.
You have to be happy right now. Not later, when something really good happens. Just remember it more often. I want to figure out what I should have learned where I am now. I want to make the most of the opportunities I have in my current place. It would be a mistake to rush, to drop everything and run from something without knowing what for. You have to make a fully informed decision. I’m just kidding, just kidding 🙂 As soon as I finish up all the drawings I’ve planned, I’ll wrap up and come straight to you!
Hugs and kisses to you and the kids! Hello to all!
Enjoy and grow, even if we don’t have to do it side by side. Love you!