Ales Bialiatski’s The Quicksilver of Life presented in Minsk

The Quicksilver of Life is the first book by Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and vice-president of FIDH Ales Bialiatski, which was presented in Minsk on July 22 with the participation of the author.

The former political prisoner was released a month ago, on June 21, when the book was already printed. But its presentation was put off till today.

The book consists of a series of essays, or rather, letters from Ales Bialiatski, which he sent to his colleagues during his detention in Babruisk colony No. 2.

According to the compiler of the book, Alena Laptsionak, she literally had to decipher the complex handwriting of Viasna’s leader and then to send the text back for editing. As Ales himself said, as well as others who received letters from him, the prison censors could not make out his handwriting, so it became possible that the Bialiatski’s letters reached his friends and colleagues.

According to Alena Laptsionak, the first parts of the books are dated September of 2012, the last – June 2013. But the book is not only the so-called “chronicle of prison life”. Iryna Prakopchyk of “Viasna” presented the part of the publication she had to work on personally. These letters are labeled “Meetings of Solidarity”. There are memoirs of Ales Bialiatski on his trips and meetings with other human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, Russia and other countries, including those who ended up behind bars. Iryna Prakopchyk noted that Ales’ memories brought her to tears, and taught her many lessons, including that a person can be decent in different conditions, despite all the difficulties.

A number of well-known public and political figures came to congratulate Ales Bialiatski on the publication. Sincere words to the author were said by Chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhanna Litvina (Bialiatski is a BAJ member), poet and politician Uladzimir Niakliayeu, who read a poem dedicated to Ales, written before the 50th anniversary of Bialiatski (the human rights defender marked his anniversary in prison.) A musical greeting was presented by Ales’ longtime friend and classmate, bard Eduard Akulin.

Former political prisoners, the Young Front leader Dzmitry Dashkevich and co-chair of the organizing committee of the party Belarusian Christian Democracy Pavel Seviarynets, noted the importance of Ales Bialiatski’s literary work in prison conditions. According to them, this is the record of today’s reality and the most sincere reflection of the truth in today’s Belarus.

Ales Bialiatski said that it is in such extreme conditions when a person is all alone that paper becomes his partner. “All of the feelings, all the burning issues, all observations could be entrusted only to paper. During the last three years in prison, I tried every day to find time to write articles, which later became parts of today’s book. The publication contains my memories of the life of the Belarusian human rights movement, daily challenges and victories of international solidarity. All this was written in difficult conditions. Somewhere on the bedside table, on the cot, at work somewhere in the break, whereever there was a moment of time. And even when there was no time to write anything, I tried not to stop work on the book at least in my own mind,” said Ales Bialiatski.

According to him, during the month and a day he has spent as a free man, he has not written a single line. But he promised to return to writing, because too much stuff has piled up.

Hennadz Kesner,

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Other political prisoners

  • Andrej Zhukavec
  • Dzmitry Miadzvedz
  • Aliaksandr Kviatkievich
  • Leonid Svecik
  • Sviatoslav Baranovich