Then they started throwing us from one paddy wagon to another. In the first one, I still had my news reporter status: I was not thrown to the floor, but allowed to sit down. I had to step over puddles of blood or something that looked a lot like blood. I tried not to tread on the people lying on the floor.
I felt like I was at a war, and the occupation forces had arrived. My brain refused to register that I was in Belarus. Next to me there was a guy and a girl who had seen what was going on at Pushkinskaya on the internet and had come there with bandages and medicines to provide aid.
Then we were taken out of that paddy wagon and put down with our faces to the ground. There, however, I had the same status as everyone else. A riot policeman came up and kicked me, because my legs were too wide apart. Then another one came and kicked me again, because my legs were no longer wide enough apart. They shouted, “You wanted a revolution? You'll have one!”
There were about 20 of us – all were loaded into another paddy wagon and taken somewhere. We still had our phones, and, looking at the map, we realized that we were on our way to Okrestina. But then, listening to the conversation of the police guys, we understood that there was no vacant space there.
On our way, I managed to send a SOS message. But I did not have geolocation on, so my emergency contacts only received a text message that I was in trouble. Without a link to Google maps.
In the end, we were brought to a police station, but there was no room there either. So we were taken to the yard behind the building and told to get down with our faces on the grass. The policemen wrote down our personal data about three times.
I asked them to tell the press service that I was a journalist. But nobody did, of course. I was interrogated by a woman. Someone was beaten up next to me, but she did not even react to it: she did not care.
We lay down the whole night long with zip ties on our wrists. Almost all of us chose to keep silent. But there was a man about 40 years of age, who would talk all the time, telling them they should be ashamed of themselves. He told them he was an Afghan War veteran, and they could not break him down. He said he was stronger both physically and mentally. They threatened to break his arms and legs, but in the end, he made them give up and take off the ties from his wrists. Then he asked them to do the same for us, but it did not work this time.
In the second half of the night, policemen with a bunch of printed reports came. All of them were exactly the same: all of us were detained at three in the morning, all of us had allegedly been chanting protest slogans. The policemen made it clear that if someone did not sign the report, they would be beaten. I wrote on this piece of paper that I was driving a car, and had not participated in the rallies.
Then the riot police left, and only the regular policemen remained with us. They treated us better. They would let us go to the toilet. When we came back, they would put the ties back on our hands more loosely.