Dmitry Vasilets: A Weekend in Solitary Confinement

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The following letter was written by the political prisoner in Ukraine Dmitry Vasilets. Additional information about Dmitry and other letters written by him can be found here.

Hello friends, it is almost sure that none of you were in solitary confinement, and as I recently spent three days and nights there, I think it is necessary to describe how it is. For those who are not aware, solitary confinement is the most severe punishment of prisoners in jail, and if the prisoner is very “harmful” he is transferred from the cell for a various number of days to solitary confinement, for my “merits” I was given three days. So, here we go!

Solitary confinement consists of a very wet room in the basement (about 6 square meters), with a toilet without a flush, which reeks horribly (it is impossible to escape the stench). Half a meter away from the toilet, a board upholstered with iron is folded against the wall – it is a type of bed, but the supervisors unhook this “bed” from the wall so that it is possible to lay down or sit down on it, but this occurs only after 22:00. And already at 05:00 it is time to get up, and supervisors again fold up this “bed” to a wall so that it is impossible to lay down or sit down on it. So from 05:00 to 22:00 you are forced to “stand” as there is no place to sit down, moreover to lay down, while the floor is concrete, cold, spat on, and dirty, it is the main “shtick” of solitary confinement. At the end of the day, all the body terribly aches and hurts. Also, as you already guessed, there is no heating in solitary confinement at all, and the cold is simply horrible (outside it was about zero during the day), and a wild draft came straight through the prison bars from the street. It is no wonder that after our prisons only those who have very good health leave healthy.

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In solitary confinement everything is taken away from you except a bowl for food, i.e. no books, no teapot, no pen — all is forbidden. On the first day I felt terribly heavy, both mentally and physically, but then having collected the strength and thoughts, I also without special problems passed through this sophisticated torture by cold, loneliness, exhaustion, and fear. It is strange that after solitary confinement I did not feel fear in front of such possible future “punishments”, but on the contrary, confidence, fearlessness, and indifference appeared. As it is said, what does not kill us, will make us stronger.

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