Dmitry Vasilets’ Instructions for Survival in Prison

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


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The journalist Dmitry Vasilets, who together with Evgeny Timonin was condemned to nine years of imprisonment on a charge of treason and complicity to terrorism, continues to write to “Vesti” from the detention center. He transfers his texts through his lawyer. Dmitry has his own point of view on the events ongoing in our country, and his experience can become instructive for many.


The weight of imprisonment is very great, both physically and morally. But I know that among the citizens of Ukraine there are many courageous people who love their country, and it is precisely for this reason that political repressions will continue further. In this regard I decided to share my experience and to describe how despite everything I took it upon myself to strengthen my health and spirit, not to give in to blackmail and threats. Using the law, it is possible even in prison to achieve many things both in terms of Ukraine and in respect of personal growth.

Direct your creative rage towards new projects

When I was put in a cell, I started writing a technical project on the startup of the “On Air” project, which, after its realization, will become a worthy weapon against censorship in the media.

To allow them to close your mouth is a luxury. Don’t allow it

When I was blackmailed and forced to give false testimonies against Channel 17, I wrote an open letter and made their demands public. I studied laws so that my voice was audible from behind bars, and now you have the opportunity to read it.

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Harden your body and spirit

After my letter about the blackmail attempt, at the request of SBU I was put in the coldest and small double cell without heating in the winter, in the hope that I will lose health. I began to pour cold water every day on myself and to eat onions with garlic in large quantity, combining it with daily physical burden (push-ups, squats, the plank, bench press, and so on).

Make a switch

As the food here is not good, I established for myself dry fasting for cleaning of the organism from every evening of Thursday to the morning of Saturday. To make a switch to consciousness and positive thoughts I started studying yoga, one hour per day step by step I learned to breathe and meditate correctly, learning this science.

If you allow yourself to be humiliated once, you will subsequently be humiliated one thousand times

I “sat” both in a big cell for 15 people, and in a small one for 3 people, and everywhere it is the same: those who are around you will do what you allow. For me it is simpler in this scheme – I always make it clear that I can easily hit back. In many respects, probably, because my instinct of self-preservation is atrophied, because of my continuous fights in my childhood in the village. That’s why in 99% of cases everything goes my way in the cell. But also I witnessed how people who couldn’t stand up for themselves were subjected to systematic beatings.

I know this because these people were transferred often to my cell, because in my cell people were in safety. Of course, the administration does everything so that people aren’t beaten in cells, but according to the “concepts” very few people are stupid enough to “report” to the prison administration that they were beaten. It is mainly relatives who do it when during court sessions they see the results of beatings.

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That’s why if you, heaven forbid, are placed in a pre-trial detention center, you must immediately forget about fear. Remember that all people are mortal, and even murderers understand this.

Having trust is important. And this is crucial if you are in prison

Sooner or later I will leave from here, and together with adequate people I will continue building the strong State of Ukraine. But I will leave prison being much more stronger than I was before.

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