By Nadiya Savchenko, via Rosuznik Facebook post
Posted on 01.25.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
“A heartfelt greeting to you all!
Over the New Year’s holidays, I received a flood of letters. Many letters came through RosUznik. I give my sincere thanks to all of you, for all the warm and kind words you wrote me, they’ve given me another push to live and to fight!
Forgive me for being physically unable to answer all of the letters, and if you don’t receive a response from me in the mail, I want you to read this letter, which I address to everyone. I hope it will be posted on the RosUznik website, and will reach everyone who wrote to me.
Today I will tell you about myself. In your letters, you often ask me – how am I doing? How is my health? How are things? Normally I don’t answer such questions, since there’s nothing special I can say. But today, there was one situation that struck me, and I decided to answer the questions that I usually ignore.
To begin with, this is the second year of me not celebrating New Year’s in Russian prisons. For me, neither 2015 nor 2016 came around. I’m still in 2014, the year when I was kidnapped from Ukraine and brought to Russia by force. And so it happens out that this is the second time my hunger strike coincides with the winter holidays.
This time, there were a nauseating, tasteless, joyless and stagnant 10 days of New Year holidays mandated by Russian legislation. I won’t write about how they went last time, I already described that in my book. During these 10 days, being in jail was simply impossible! I was sick to death of reading books, I was tired of doing origami, the TV made me sick, I didn’t want to go for a walk, since the exercise yard is just another cell like the one I’m in. I didn’t want to play sports, I didn’t want to sit or lie down, and there’s simply nowhere to walk in a 5 x 2.5 m cell – the prison cot (bed), washbasin, toilet, table, bench, cupboard and refrigerator, take up all the space, and there’s only a narrow passage left, 70 cm wide, 5 m long. I wanted absolutely nothing, except to go to sleep and stay asleep for as long as possible… But I couldn’t sleep, either… slumber wouldn’t come, by day or by night. The iron bars of the prison cot (bed) poke through a battered cotton mattress, digging into the body and putting pressure on the bones. The hard cotton wool pillow distorts my spine a lot, giving me constant headaches.
I pretty much just existed. There was a total vacuum in my mind and soul. The censor’s office did not work during the holidays, so no letters arrived for me, and there was no food for thought.
I got visits from the Consuls of Ukraine, both before the New Year, and after the holidays again. I love it when they visit. Intelligent, open, sincere people. Here, in Russia, they have become the dearest of people to me. On January 6th, Vira arrived to visit me for kutia before Christmas. 🙂 Last year, her first visit to me was before Christmas, too 🙂 That is, of course, the most precious gift, seeing my dear sister! 🙂 I talked with her through the glass, just for an hour, as per jail rules, but an hour like this is worth a year in jail…
The rest of the days went by in the same empty way! I was hunger striking, even cigarettes no longer brought me any pleasure… This time, after more than 1.5 years of imprisonment, my body is more shredded by prison, and the hunger strike is more taxing. In less than a month, I started vomiting. Absolutely everything made me throw up: tap water, bottled carbonated water, smells, air, colors and sounds, the TV, cigarettes, and even the touch of anything in the cell. I said that I’m simply allergic to Russia by now. The prison officials take offense at that, saying that I’m simply allergic to prison… Well, maybe they’re right. Except for me, all of Russia is a prison!
Because of constant vomiting, my body couldn’t retain water anymore, and my [urine] acetone levels quickly reached the highest level ++++ (four crosses). All of the two liters [of water] I’d drink in a day, I would throw back up. Today, I got a visit from some big generals, prosecutors, and small-time officials. All talk was about one thing: to stop the hunger strike. I told them that my decision was not subject to further discussion! They invited a whole panel of doctors. After examination and the diagnosis – “Not too dead for jail yet” – I was offered different pharmaceutical solutions for lowering my acetone levels, and the option to stop the hunger strike, of course. I told them I would go with a folk remedy: one liter of sweet tea and one liter of salted tea, every day, in small sips, to stop the vomiting. The doctors were surprised by this folk remedy; it seemed they don’t know of it, while detainees in jail know a lot about chifir…
That was the treatment we agreed on. I was issued sugar, salt, and tea; in three days, they will run an analysis, and if my acetone level drops, they’re going to let me be. Yes, my body is on the edge now. Maybe I won’t last three months, like last time, but two months, that I guarantee you! And I won’t need more than that! This time, all or nothing! You can’t put a price on freedom!!!
But right now, this isn’t about the hunger strike or how I’m doing. I want to talk about the thing that caused me to write this letter to you.
The doctor panel included a psychiatrist, as usual. Supposedly, a person who should be well-versed in the fragile structure of the human consciousness, nerves, and soul. The conversation [we had] was, as usual, about life goals, that to reach them, I need to survive, and for that, I need to eat – and so on, as per standard. So, after hearing out my life goals, my political opinions, and my worldviews, the doctor confessed something that blew my brain up.
He said (and he wasn’t the first, I often hear similar things from prison staff) that he wouldn’t mind if Russia was ruled by a Tsar; that without a harsh government, there won’t be any order; that he’s not at all interested in traveling to see the world, or even more of his own country; that he’s quite content to live out his life in the same town, going to work, then going home; that it’s okay to half-starve, why eat too much?; that he’s not concerned with politics, either, and is content with what he’s got. He also said that this is the opinion of some 80% of people, and only 20% are like me – not just in Russia, but also in Ukraine. I told him that, thank God, 80% of people in Ukraine think like I do, and only 20%, like him. I also told him that if things are really so bad in Russia, then I wish them the Tsar that they want, but I don’t want to see their Tsar in Ukraine, or for them to set foot on our land – because Ukrainians are free people, and will not tolerate Tsars over themselves!
I’m still recovering from the shock that conversation caused me…
I don’t understand – for whom did the great Russian poets write their poetry?! Why does St. Petersburg need the Hermitage, with its rich cultural heritage?! Who needs the beautiful architecture of that ancient city?! Who needs Russia’s beautiful white birch trees and the wildlife of the taiga?! Who needs all this rich Russian culture anyway, if 80% of Russians think like this psychiatrist, that going to museums is boring, while watching TV is fun!?!!!! Who then needs the beauty of their churches?! My God! I don’t know which Gods to thank for the fact that those 20% do exist! Without them, Russia would still be in the stone age, yoked by a never-ending serfdom!!!
So maybe ISIS did the right thing when they blew up Palmira?! Who gives a rat’s ass about the antiques?! Maybe those 20% wasted their efforts in moving science and technology forward?! Why do it?! If everyone is so happy anyway, like the person FreeMan talked about: Eat-Shit-Roar! Eat-Shit-Roar!
What kind of life is that? I’d rather die!
In my book I described this story: in my service as a pilot, I once came to a small town in Ukraine, and the first thing I did was go and explore the surroundings. Right in the middle of the town, there is an old abandoned fortress. When I was coming down from the fortress bank, overgrown with grass, I met a grandma [old lady] who was herding a cow near there. She asked me what was behind the grass bank, I told her that – that’s your town fortress, and she replied: “How about that! For 30 years I’ve lived here, since marrying here, I’m herding my cow here, and I never knew that there was a fortress behind that bank…”
In my book, I wrote about that, saying – “My God! Why would one live like that?!”
Yes, Ukraine also has narrow-minded people, they exist everywhere in the world. But isn’t the beauty of the world enough to keep decreasing the numbers of such people?! Europe and the rest of the civilized world have long been living in a way that even retired people can travel and see the world. Ukrainians, especially the youth, have made a huge breakthrough in this respect.
I sincerely wish Russia to become free and conscious – by 80%, not 20%. I wish [Russians] to live not in a Tsar’s empire, but in a free, democratic country with human rights, and to be not our brothers, but our good neighbors.
Russians and Ukrainians, I sincerely wish us all goodness and love!
There, now I have poured my soul out to you. That’s a weight off my heart!
I made it through today without throwing up, with the help of prison and folk remedies. My body kept down two liters of water. So everything will be fine! Till we meet again in court! :)) 15.01.2016
And now a P.S. of sorts:
It has been three days since I wrote to you. I hasten to inform you of my miraculous recovery, to the delight of my supporters and to the annoyance of my haters. 😉 ) Three days of treatment with chifir’ and people’s letters – and I am very much healthy and ready to fight!
You must’ve done a great job wishing me well in your letters, to get me back on my feet so fast. 🙂
My sincere thanks to you, for the power of your words! 🙂
All right, back to work!
My mood is up, I’m feeling great – now I’m off to the court! Morning, 18.01.2015
[signed] Nadiya Savchenko
Source: Rosuznik FB
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