‘I never thought Kafka was reality’. Home-arrested culture expert Yuliya Charnyauskaya sends message

Photo: Yuliya Charnyauskaya / Facebook

Yuliya Charnyauskaya, a Belarusian cultural studies scholar and the widow of popular Belarusian news portal TUT.BY founder Yury Zisser, managed to pass a message to her friends and family with the help of her defence lawyer.

The woman was detained on May 18; a few days later, she was put under house arrest. Her daughter Yauheniya Charnyauskaya-Gurin created a special page on Facebook to post her mother’s letters there. Here is what Yuliya has told about her current condition:

“I read a lot, draw, pet a dog, listen to music. And yet, despite health problems, I make more and more steps around the apartment. Yura [Yury Zisser] left me so many things, including CDs (although half of them are not played by the music system, as they are very old), and my dog which he gave me as a birthday present,” Yuliya Charnyauskaya describes her daily routine.

According to the cultural scientists, she never thought that [the legacy of] Kafka was a reality.

“Comparing my situation to that of imprisoned persons, I do realise that I am very lucky; by the way, I have no doubt about their decency. I pray for them – that is what I can do. I am lucky that I have friends. I am also lucky to have the trees in front of my window. When residing on Nyamiha Street, I completely forgot how the rustling of trees sounds; at first, [after moving to a new flat] I confused it with the start of raining. There are really fleshed-out rainbows. And if one looks closely, one could see the Minsk observation wheel from my window. I rememder one old picture called ‘Life is Everywhere’. The messages and news you are sending are very helpful. I am very lucky to have you. Live happily. Thank you, dear,” the arrestee said in her letter.

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On May 18, Belarusian security officers descended upon TUT.BY offices across the couuntry, as well as to editors’ places. According to the official information, a criminal case was launched against TUTBY Media company officials under Part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code (‘large-scale tax evasion’). A dozen persons were detained as part of the criminal case opened against TUTBY Media company, including TUT.BY editor-in-chief Maryna Zolatava.

On the same day, the well-known Belarusian cultural studies scholar Yuliya Charnyauskaya.was taken to the reception room of Minsk clinical hospital Nr 1; a police officer was keeping a close watch on her even there. Then the woman, who went through through a hypertensive crisis, was discharged; the police escorted her. For two days, her whereabouts was unknown; on May 20, she was reported to have been interrogated by the Department of Financial Investigations and then placed under house arrest.

In late May, a charge was brought against Yuliya Charnyauskaya. However, it is unknown under which article she is accused; as Yuliya’s defence lawyer had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, she is not allowed to inform even the closest relatives of the aspects of the case.

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