For the illegitimate government, even harmless pensioners are considered enemies – although the state propaganda constantly talks about the need to think and take care of the elderly. Retired women showed real heroism by protesting against the Lukashenka regime. Many admitted that they do it for the happiness of their children and grandchildren. Today we will tell you about heroic pensioners who are not afraid of prison or repression.
For many years, an ordinary Belarusian pensioner Nina Baginskaya has been one of the symbols of protest. She worked as a geologist at the Belarusian Research and Exploration Institute. Here, she became a member of the Belarusian Popular Front and created a local BNF partnership at the institute. But in 1994, after Lukashenka came to power, she was fired for her active position and speaking the Belarusian language. Nina Baginskaya started protesting against the regime back in 1988. On August 1, 2014, she was arrested for burning the Soviet flag at the KGB building in Minsk. In 2018, with a poster “Belarus repressed”, a pensioner protested against the restaurant “Let’s go eat” in Kurapaty. She did not pass by in 2020, starting to protest against the illegitimate regime. She was repeatedly put in a paddy wagon, and police took a white-red-white flag away from her. Several times she even became ill with the security forces. Over the years, Nina Baginskaya has been fined more than 17 thousand dollars. Authorities deduct the money from her small pension. Nina Baginskaya refuses the help of caring Belarusians on principle.
On May 29, 2020, 81-year-old Grodno pensioner Galina Andreychik spoke at a campaign rally of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and got on Sergei Tikhanovsky’s channel “Country for Life”. Galina Andreychik has been teaching economic theory at Grodno universities for 52 years. In the 1990s, she and her husband built a cottage with the help of relatives from Australia. On June 4, 2020, during the appointment of a new government, Alexander Lukashenko criticized her, and then the KGB took care of her. KGB drone illegally captured her house. The video then appeared on a state TV channel. The plot stated that she has an apartment in the centre of Grodno, a cottage “two unfinished fazenda”, a minibus for $ 25 thousand, her sons were called unemployed, which is not true — both of the woman’s sons work in Russia. Because of the slander, the pensioner had health problems.
On December 8, 2020, 66-year-old pensioner Irina Melcher from Brest was detained in the “Autukhovich case”. Irina was detained with her son Anton, who worked as a programmer from home. First, they detained my son — the security forces just came home and arrested him as soon as he opened the door. And when the mother went to find out where he was, she was also arrested. Her husband found out about this only thanks to the neighbours checking if everything was in order. The camera in which Irina is located has suffered the coronavirus in full. Irina Melcher hardly sleeps in the KGB detention centre. She suffered a hypertensive crisis. Her health is getting worse every day. She was allocated an upper bunk, where it is difficult for her to climb because of her excess weight. Irina has kidney problems, she often goes to the toilet, and at night she has to wait for one of the neighbours to wake up and help her climb up. In the pre-trial detention centre, a woman got into the punishment cell. After that, her buttocks became inflamed, and she could not sit. In June 2021, a criminal case was opened against Irina Melcher for participating in a protest rally in Brest on September 13, 2020.
On December 15, 2020, 87-year-old Elizaveta Bursova was tried in Minsk, who hung a white-red-white flag on the balcony. The judge recognized it as an unauthorized picket. The pensioner was awarded a fine of 405 rubles, even though her pension is 600 rubles. The woman reminded that the first president of the Republic of Belarus took the oath under such a flag. In 1941, Elizaveta Bursova left Vitebsk by the last evacuation train. Her relatives died in the Baranovichi ghetto. In 2020, the pensioner was most outraged by the official election results and the events of the first days of protests. She attended rallies and went to the Ministry of Education in dismissed teachers support.
On December 21, 2020, 63-year-old Elena Gnauk from Pruzhan was detained in Brest. At that time, it was her tenth detention, and she said that she sat in all the cells of the temporary detention centre. After the 2020 elections, Elena went to the protest every week from her native village of Tkachi to the regional centre. She became a defendant in the criminal “round dance case”. She did not admit her guilt, saying that the case was completely fabricated. Elena was sentenced to two years of restriction of freedom without being sent to an open-type correctional institution. In July 2021, another criminal case was opened against Elena about insulting Lukashenka. The resolution on the initiation of a criminal case notes that she “while in Hall 201 of the “House of Justice”, expressed an offensive phrase against Lukashenka. The pensioner said that on that day she said that on August 9, 2020, a “not quite mentally healthy person” seized power in Belarus. On September 3, 2021, she was added another year of restriction of freedom without being sent to an open-type correctional institution. Elena tried to challenge the decision in court, but the verdict remained unchanged. In December 2021, the police came to Elena and wanted to confiscate her laptop because she shot a video dedicated to a Kurdish family and posted it on the Internet. On December 26, 2021, Elena Gnauk was detained for an “unauthorized picket” with the help of two white and one red bag tied to a fence. Elena was punished for 15 days in the temporary detention centre. By order of the head of the Pruzhany district police department, she was forbidden to transmit broadcasts, write and read. Elena Gnauk has declared a hunger strike.
On May 16, 2021, 78-year-old pensioner Galina Ivanova was walking along Prytytsky Street, saw a mown tulip on the lawn and put it at the memorial to Alexander Taraykovsky, killed by security forces in August 2020. On May 31, she was sentenced to $1,717 for this. The pensioner worked as an electrical engineer on a plant. After Lukashenka came to power, this plant got destroyed. The woman was forced to work as a janitor and cleaner until retirement. In August 2020, when the protests began, Galina Ivanov was struck by the brutality with which the security forces beat young people. After the murder of Alexander Taraykovsky, a woman and her friends began to attend marches of pensioners. For one of the exits, she was punished with 600 rubles of fine. A fine of $ 1,717 for Galina Ivanova with a pension of 644 rubles is a large amount, and she decided to appeal it.
On August 18, 2021, the security forces came to the public association of pensioners “Our Generation” chairman, 67-year-old Tatiana Zelko. Tatiana paid the first fine in November 2020 under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code. On March 31, 2021, five police officers came to the pensioner. They were without uniforms, wearing masks and caps, did not introduce themselves. The staff said they had a search warrant. There was a white-red-white flag hanging on Tatiana’s wall. The security forces tore down, hung it on the window and photographed it. The pensioner was treated and aggressively threatened to be imprisoned for 30 days and demanded to take off her shoes with laces. European Union and Ukraine flags got seized from Tatiana during the search. Her apartment was in a trashed state. On August 18, security forces seized woman’s equipment, business cards and remnants of national symbols. Tatiana was taken for questioning to the central office of the KGB as a witness. After the interrogation, the pensioner was released.
On September 10, 2021, three pensioners who held a solidarity rally with Maxim Znak and Maria Kolesnikova were tried in Minsk. 60-year-old Irina Novik and 61-year-old Alla Buyankova received 15 days of administrative detention, 61-year-old Natalia Ageychik – 30 days of arrest. KGB officers searched her apartment and seized equipment. Natalia Ageychik and Irina Novik said they were in other places and had evidence in the form of video recordings from cameras. The judge banned watching them and found the women guilty. Alla Buyankova refused to give any testimony because she did not see the point in it. Earlier, pensioners were fined for reading books in the Belarusian language on the train in February 2021.
On September 15, 2021, 65-year-old Lyudmila Khlusevich from Rechitsa was sentenced to two years of restriction of liberty without referral to an open-type correctional institution. The investigators came to her on January 14, 2021. They took her to the department. They interrogated her for 4 hours as part of a criminal case for insulting a police officer on the Odnoklassniki social network. During the investigation, she got charged with insulting a representative of the authorities. Lyudmila Khlusevich, suffering from leukaemia, survived a search and about ten interrogations. The woman lost 10 kilograms and suffered from hypertension and insomnia. Desperate, she left a suicide note, because of which the court decided to conduct a comprehensive psychological and psychiatric examination. In November, another criminal case was opened against the pensioner for insulting a police officer. And in December 2021, Lyudmila Khlusevich received a “violation of the regime” for coming to register with the police an hour and a half earlier than the appointed time.
On September 29, 2021, a 68-year-old retired Belarusian language teacher Emma Stepulenok from Miory was detained. She worked in the structures of the Komsomol, then for a while, she was a headteacher for academic work, and after that, she became a teacher at secondary school No.3. After retiring, the teacher went to the rural school of the district and kindergarten. Emma was elected a deputy of the District Council of Deputies. In retirement, Emma Stepulenok received a driver’s license, was engaged in floriculture and needlework, did repairs in the house on her own, wrote poetry. Emma Stepulenok was detained for comment about Andrei Zeltser, who shot at a KGB officer. In the pre-trial detention centre, the woman had vision problems: she began to see worse, her eyes began to water. She asked me to give her the glasses, left at home. In addition, she has pressure problems. The woman is being held in a criminal case under articles 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a representative of the authorities) and 130 of the Criminal Code (inciting social discord). Emma Stepulenok celebrated her birthday in prison.
Belarusian women, after retirement, don’t have the right to any involved activity. The illegitimate government has turned pensioners into slaves with poor pensions, which are enough only for the most necessary. They can’t go on vacation, go to a concert, get high-quality treatment – that’s why they came out against Lukashenka. ICCI “Our House” expresses solidarity with Belarusian pensioners. We hope that after the victory, they will have a decent life.