The residents of Minsk who take part in unauthorized actions (like the one on December 19, 2010) are fined or, more commonly, placed behind bars. The leaders get locked for several years, while protesters are detained for days or weeks.
When you turn from the House of the Government to the right to Niezaliežnasci Ave and then to the left to Valadarskaha street, you will find yourself in front of the Interior Ministry’s pre-trial detention center No 1 (2 Valadarskaha St.)
From outside, this is Belarus’ most beautiful prison. Built in 1825, it was originally known as Piščalaŭski Castle. The list of prisoners that used to sit here includes: members of the 1863 anti-Russian uprising, Belarusian poet Jakub Kolas (see the statue of him at Jakuba Kolasa square), the founder of independent Poland Józef Piłsudski as well as the founder of Cheka (later KGB) Felix Dzierżynski. In recent years, many Belarusian political prisoners ended up here as well.
Photo: Siarhei Hudzilin