Human rights activist Leonid Agafonov published the first multimedia story from the series 'Women's faces of prison'. It was about deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Karelia Olga Zaletskaya, held in the remand prison for about two weeks in March 2015. Journalist Natalya Donskova arrived in Petrozavodsk in April 2017 with the blog-expedition Zona, met with her and wrote down the story of her arrest. This story was about the feelings of a woman who has been imprisoned, what problems she encountered, how she violated the rights of women in places of detention. Briefly about the project and its first part — in the review of «7x7».
Shower — once a week
After the arrest, Olga Zaletskaya spent the first day in a temporary detention facility. They took her bra, pantyhose, jacket, and left a thin synthetic dress, boots and shorts. She had no food, was not allowed to go to the toilet for several hours. The investigator saw Olga and asked to feed the woman and give her underwear.
In jail, Olga fainted as she climbed the stairs with a pillow and a mattress in her hands — she asked for help, and was not helped. In the cell, the woman did not have any soap, toilet brush, towel — only a dirty toilet and ice water. She was taken from cell to cell for three days.
'Then I told the psychologist that one can be driven to suicide after such torturing. I received a parcel from my sister, inhaled the smell of household things. Then I was transferred to a general cell. The girls told me: 'Brace yourself, we will bake a cake now' (baking cake meant spreading sponges). I burst into tears, there was a relief. I drank tea with melissa for the first time. I will never forget this taste,' Olga recalls. 'At that moment, I realized that you could keep hope here. In the mornings I did gymnastics. I started to write memoirs and draw, I painted postcards for children of all neighbors of the ward. And I did not set myself up for a quick release.’
According to Olga, the shower was once a week, single-color underwear, no combs. It is a little easier for those who know about their rights, write an application for a 'humanitarian set'. Those who do not get parcels make pads of their own T-shirts, and slippers — from a piece of old linoleum. They put the folded clothes on an uncomfortable mattress.
Pressure through children
Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Karelia Olga Zaletskaya, mother of two children, was arrested for a month in March 2015, just after her husband, a sea captain, went on a voyage. She spent two weeks in jail on charges of fraud with municipal real estate, as a result of which the city budget allegedly did not get 16.5 million rubles.
Olga has two children, a sister, an 83-year-old disabled father. Children were taken to the school and kindergarten in the morning by a neighbor. In the evening, family friends took them away. Zaletskaya was informed that children could be taken to an orphanage.
'Women who have young children are very often placed under arrest to manipulate and receive confessions in exchange for the illusion of reuniting with children. It is perfect for the investigator — to use social services, take the children to the orphanage. And the woman becomes complaisant. In my opinion, this is a typical abuse of the law,' Leonid Agafonov, author of the project 'Woman. Jail. Society', says.
Mass rallies in support
After the arrest of Olga Zaletskaya, several meetings took place — people of Petrozavodsk went out into the street with slogans: 'Bring mother back to children', 'Only weak men are afraid of strong women', 'Judicial arbitrariness off!'. Law enforcement officers reported on 300 participants in the protest action, in fact there were at least 800 of them.
Olga Zaletsky was released under house arrest. Now she is a member of the Legislative Assembly from the Yabloko party. The trial of her case has not yet ended.
To remain a woman. Even in prison
One of the tasks of the project 'Woman. Jail. Society' — to show that a woman remains a woman even in prison. And the difficulties she faces are unfamiliar to male prisoners.
'This system is inhuman. Women and their children are despised. I remember how the pregnant girl froze in the cell in St. Petersburg, she was dragging a heavy mattress, and had a miscarriage. Nobody wanted to take responsibility. Employees of the pre-trial detention center said: a miscarriage was not in our institution, we took her to a hospital. After that, the girl had inflammation, and no one helped her. I want people to know about these stories,' Leonid Agafonov says.
The series 'Women's faces of the prison' — a part of the project 'Woman. Jail. Society', 10 stories in one. This is a view on the 'habitual' system of execution of punishments as viewed by women: the convict, the woman who works in the colony, the woman who waits for her beloved, children and parents of convicts, lawyers, judges, human rights activists. The authors promise to publish the next story in June.
Sergey Markelov, «7x7»