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We continue our column, ‘Freedom in Captivity. Solidarity without Borders’ together with the Anarchist Black Cross Belarus. The next hero is anarchist political prisoner Ihar Alinevich. Ihar is a well-known practitioner of direct action, a man of unshakable character, ‘an intellectual and a real fighter’. This material is about the last case of Ihar Alinevich, with extracts of his letters and interviews with Alina Koushyk, Eugeni Zhuravski, Afed, and Libor Brzobohatý.

‘In the conditions of Belarusan authoritarianism, the revolution was made possible precisely because of decentralisation. I wanted to contribute to the further development of events in a decentralised direction so that the regime would fall under the onslaught of the people’s unity, and not in the course of behind-the-scenes negotiations and concessions. Thus, the purpose of my participation in the underground struggle was not to intimidate people, influence the authorities, or destabilise an already destabilised society. On the contrary, my aim was to inspire the people so that through courageous actions, they would believe in their own strength. I wanted the liberation of the revolutionary personality, the radicalization of consciousness, so that man would overcome the usual patterns of subordination and authoritarian dogmas. I wanted man not to look into the mouths of the leaders but to strive to take the initiative in his own hands, become bolder, more ambitious in his political desires, and self-organise with other people.’

Ihar Alinevich’s last word in court

Ihar Alinevich, portrait of the authorship of Xisha Angelova. Source ‘Right of Revolution’

Ihar Alinevich became interested in the ideas of anarchism as a teenager. He joined the movement in Minsk and was a founder and participant of many anarchist groups. Ihar held views of militant anarchism and believed in the importance of combining intellectual and physical resistance, stressing that activists should be prepared to defend themselves and their ideals in any conditions.

Ihar was first arrested in 2010. The outcome was 8 years in prison for a series of radical direct action actions. However, the guy was released after five years and moved to Poland.

After the beginning of the events in 2020, Ihar Alinevich and his comrades illegally crossed the Belarusian border to take part in the fight against the regime.

Together with Dzmitry Rezanovich, Dzmitry Dubouski, and Siarhei Ramanau, he was detained and charged under the terrorist article for weapons possession and arson of cars of state officials, the headquarters of the traffic police, and the State Committee of Forensic Expertise.

On December 22, 2021, Ihar was awarded 20 years of imprisonment in a reinforced regime colony.

Now Ihar learns, unfortunately, the typical pressure for an anarchist behind bars in Belarus: the guy was deprived of transfers and calls and regularly placed in the punishment cell.

‘I am living a meaningful life. I’m very glad that I managed to redefine myself and also experience freedom after imprisonment. Now everything is clear in life and harmonious. Even new desires have appeared that I didn’t have before. I am growing up. Besides, I am not dogmatic; I have learned to understand capitalism and the family in an evolutionist way, and I have separated the grain from the chaff…’

From the letters of Ihar Alinevich, source: ‘Right of Revolution’

Alina Koushyk learned about Ihar Alinevich’s story through the media and became a patron of the guy when he went to jail for the second time.

Alina Koushyk

representative of the United Transitional Cabinet for National Revival

The idea to take Ihar under guardianship was born during a meeting with relatives of political prisoners connected with culture. I said then that I was ready to take any person. Ihar’s mother was the first to agree, and I was very happy.

I keep in contact with Ihar’s parents and talk about him at official meetings, interviews, and on social media. I made a shirt with his quote in English: ‘he who keeps silent is defeated’.

Ihar spends most of his time in the punishment centre; everything is tough there. And he can’t write about it; he never complains. According to other relatives of the defendants in the anarcho-partisan case, political prisoners are in a cheerful mood, despite the constant pressure from the administration of the detention centre. Ihar says that the whole of Belarus seems to be sitting with such a large number of people.

About the verdict in the case of anarcho-partisans: anarchists themselves often refuse to attend the trial, as it’s a circus and the verdict has already been passed before the first session.

I support the brave Belarusians, who are aching for the fate of the motherland. I respect Ihar’s views and principles. He is a strong and bright man. Ihar is an intellectual and a real fighter.

Unfortunately correspondence is blocked, so I do not receive answers to my letters. I know that he reads a lot. Now Ihar is interested in artificial intelligence.

What hurts me most is our inability to free them all. However, we need to support political prisoners to make them feel they are not alone, to work on getting attention, and to work on liberation.

‘Ignorance is really the worst of all, because imagination is our best friend and worst enemy at the same time… I think it is much worse to treat your loved ones as children, that is, with a lack of real trust… And in any case, the only thing that matters is the spiritual side of a person. This source makes a person beautiful at any age, and if it is absent, then the external charms will not help – facial expressions will give away.

Everything is extremely simple and concise, despite the apparent complexity of the time. Because kindness is simple and clear. But in pre-war – saturated times, for some reason, the opposite happens: people invent complicated answers to simple questions. I remember my grandfather… And you know, I myself draw inspiration from this ineradicable urge to take on difficulties and stick to my way of life. With such ancestors, it is a shame to be discouraged! It is certain that one must, with all rigour, not give negative probabilities, even a shadow of a shadow, on success. Then the positive probabilities grow to the maximum. Anything can happen to each of us; it is important how we perceive it’.

From the letters of Ihar Alinevich, source: ‘Right of Revolution’

The book ‘On the Way to Magadan’ edition in Ukrainian, photo Sabotage distro

While still in his first prison, Ihar wrote a book, ‘On the Way to Magadan’, about prison and the punitive system. The book was translated into dozens of languages and won the first František Alekhnović Prize for literature written in prison. A play based on ‘On the Way to Magadan’ was staged at the Teren Theatre in Brno, Czech Republic. It was also brought to Warsaw. One of the latest is a Ukrainian edition. We talked to volunteer and anarchist Eugeni Zhuravski about how the Ukrainian audience perceived the work.

Eugeni Zhuravski,

Belarusian anarchist, volunteer of Kastus Kalinowski’s regiment

My attitude towards the group “Black Flag” or, as they are called, anarcho-partisans, is exclusively positive. I fully support their methods of struggle, as it is the destruction of the enemy’s property, and the Belarusian state is our common enemy. People didn’t suffer from it, only property – although if they had punished any of the judges, prosecutors, or cops’ leaders, I would still be positive about it.

I’m not close to Ihar, but his book ‘On the Way to Magadan’ caught my eye. It was 2013 or 2014; I was not yet on 24-hour shifts and didn’t know what the Belarusian repressive machine was like. From the book, I learned about more real Belarus and understood that if we don’t change something in the country, we will soon fall into this book. Unfortunately, we did. By the way, I advised everyone to read it: Russians, Ukrainians, and other comrades abroad.

In Warsaw, I asked comrades from the ABC to publish a Belarusian-language version of the book because, after 2020, attention to anarchists (especially after the “black flag” case) increased, and I wanted it to be read in our language. When I decided to go to Ukraine to fight against the Russian-fascist invasion, I advised giving it out in Ukrainian as well, since a lot of Ukrainians don’t understand what’s going on in Belarus at all. They live in a slightly different world, and it’s hard for them to understand how to exist in the dictatorship of the 1930s. Ukrainians are sure that it is possible to throw Lukashenko off with the help of Maidan, but in our case, this scenario doesn’t work.

Even before the book was translated, I gave it to Ukrainian women and Ukrainians I knew, and they were very impressed. That’s why I initiated the publication in Ukrainian. I found people who were ready to translate it, and we decided to use the price from the sale to support Belarusian anarchists behind bars and at the front.

After the book was translated into Ukrainian, more people read it. Let’s just say that I have never met anyone who was not amazed. Thanks to the book, Ukrainians and Ukrainian women finally begin to understand the reality Belarusians live in, they draw parallels with the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if Ihar is aware of the translation, but his mother is. I hope he will be happy that more people will read his book.

It’s hard for me to wish something for Ihar if he’s in such harsh conditions, but I am sure that war is not as cruel as prison. I wish that Ihar will remain physically and mentally healthy and, like all my comrades in captivity, will quickly see the east of the free sun over Belarus.

‘You think I’m there in a burning tank? Not at all. And many others are, too. The psyche calibrates, and again, there is a day better and a day worse, with its joys and its troubles. Unfortunately, many people don’t work out that way. They fixate on their unhappy selves and live in a synthesis of the past and chaotic expectations. For the sake of truth, it should be added that there is another extreme, when a person becomes so absorbed in the existing reality that it displaces the reality outside the fence. (To illustrate, I see everything as a prolonged dive underwater. One can grit one’s teeth and wait feverishly for the light to appear so that one can surface. You can burn yourself out. And you can dive and look with one eye to see if there is a desired light spot above the water and the other eye to examine the local flora and fauna; the more so, the ponds are changing; even get involved in oceanography; but be sure to analyse how this experience will be useful when you surface’.

From the letters of Ihar Alinevich, source: ‘Right of Revolution’

The book ‘On the Way to Magadan’ in Czech, photo ‘Right of Revolution’

The Czech Federation of Anarchists (Afed) also published Ihar Alinevich’s book ‘On the Way to Magadan’ back in 2014, but when they found out that Ihar was imprisoned again, they made another edition with Belarusian transliteration in 2022. Why did Afed decide to publish the book? Why did Ihar’s book interest Czech readers? And what is Afed’s attitude towards the situation in Belarus? You can find out about all this in the interview below.


We found out about Ihar after he was convicted for the first time, at a time when we started to become more interested in the anarchist movement in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet countries. Back in the 90s, at the time of its revival, the anarchist movement in Czechoslovakia maintained certain contacts with anarchists from the ‘East’, from the post-Soviet space, but the change of generation in the movement increased the orientation towards the West, so for several years there was no one among us who knew Russian to keep up to date with the current content of Russian-language anarchist web pages.

Exactly ten years ago, the publishing house of the Anarchist Federation published a Czech translation of the brochure ‘Portraits on the Background of the Grid’ published by ABC-Belarus in 2012. The Czech publication was a show of solidarity with persecuted Belarusian anarchists. Then, in January 2014, the Czech translation went straight from the printing house to the concert of the Belarusian band “Mister X” in Prague. ABC-Belarus published the brochure to support the people convicted in the first show trial with anarchists, including Ihar Alinevich and Mikola Dziadok, in modern Belarusian history. (After his release, we started to cooperate closely with Mikola).

That case of the Belarusian anarchists was, in fact, a textbook example of the authoritarian arbitrariness of the authorities; they were tried for their political views and convicted without evidence for long terms for hooliganism and damage to property. We felt it was our duty to publicise this and similar cases to express solidarity with the imprisoned anarchists. Since then, unfortunately, there have been enough such cases in Belarus and Russia. In modern times, repression by the state is constantly increasing.

We followed the case from the moment the first information about it appeared. We immediately reported about it in Czech in our information resources; already on November 2, we informed you about the detention of four comrades. Then we published a translation of an open letter in their support, which coincided with our attitude. Subsequently, we participated in the Week of Solidarity with Belarusian anarchists and anti-fascists 23. -30.11.2020.  At that time, the claws of the regime also grabbed our friend Mikola Dziadok, one of the signatories to the above-mentioned open letter. In December 2021, we informed about the sentence to the anarcho-partisans. We were furious, but not surprised – what else to expect from Lukashenka’s regime? We were informed about the torture and could not ignore Ihar Alinevich’s brilliant last word in court. In it, he speaks openly and clearly about his motives, which, from our point of view, are absolutely justified. We will continue to follow the information about the convicted comrades, which is published by ABC-Belarus.

The Czech translation of Ihar’s prison diary ‘On the Way to Magadan’ was first published in April 2014, in conjunction with the AI. Prague Anarchist Book Festival. We prepared it together with the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), with proceeds from the sale of the book going to Belarusian anarchists. Why did we publish this book? It is the story of an anarchist from a country run by the criminal Lukashenko. The story of a fighter against the dictatorial regime. The story of a political prisoner. This is the story of a country where anyone can end up in prison. And this is our present, Europe in the 21st century! People need to know that! And last but not least, this is a beautifully written book.

Unfortunately, Ihar is now back behind bars, and because the first Czech edition of his diary has long since been sold out, we have prepared a new one in 2022 as a sign of solidarity.

To honour the Belarusian language, which Lukashenko is trying to destroy, the names in the book this time are given in Belarusian transcription. Ihar’s diary is read by new generations of local anarchists, and perhaps thanks to this book, among others, they lack the determination to help anarchists and anti-fascists who are fighting in Ukraine against Putin’s invasion. Who knows. What we do know is that the Czech edition of Ihar’s Diary inspired the Brno theatre 3 + KK, which staged a very successful production based on the book ‘On the Way to Magadan: Don’t Believe, Don’t Fear, and Don’t Ask’. This production appeared even before the second Czech edition.

We do not forget about our comrades in prison, we follow the news about them, we translate, and we remind them of their fate (for example, during the August week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners).

But we do not pin our hopes on the “mercy” of a dictator. We pin them on the fact that he will be overthrown. Lukashenko enjoys the political and power support of the Kremlin. Therefore, the fate of our comrades in Belarusian prisons is one of the reasons why we wish Putin’s aggression in Ukraine to be defeated. A defeated or weakened Putin can also mean a defeated and weakened Lukashenko, his removal, and the release of political prisoners in Belarus.

We can’t even imagine what they are going through. We can try to imagine ourselves in their situation, but it would still be far from the cruel reality they are forced to face.

We wish them, above all, a lot of mental and physical strength. May many different pleasant little things help to make their life behind bars more bearable and joyful, however paradoxical this may sound. And of course, we wish them that the dictatorship falls soon and they are released. But that is not all. We also wish that their return to freedom will be successful and that they will find the support they will undoubtedly need in a strong, confident, and the only anarchist movement that will become a relevant force in Belarus.

‘I keep myself in a positive self-image, i.e., the very basis must be in order, then everything else – words, actions, health – will be in the same vein. I haven’t had any noticeable mood swings in a long time – no grief, no longing, no sadness:) I’ve always paid attention to people with long terms, how they behave. And some of them can not say that they were in prison at all, they are so balanced and positive in their behaviour, and the aura infects them! Half of the success is the thoughts that we put into action when we wake up (I often reread poems and quotes after exercise) and what we think about before going to bed. That’s why, in the morning and late in the evening, I usually don’t engage in conversations.’

From the letters of Ihar Alinevich, source: ‘Right of Revolution’

Mark Christian Hochman, photo by 3 + KK theatre‘s

Recently, the Czech independent theatre 3 + kk staged a production based on Ihar’s book ‘On the Way to Magadan’. The initiator of the play is Libor Brzobohatý.

Libor Brzobohatý

Artistic Director of Theatre 3 + kk, playwright of the play Jedu do Magadana: Never, nebo se a nepros (On the Way to Magadan: Don’t Believe, Don’t Fear, and Don’t Ask).

I learned about Ihar, his story, and his powerful message thanks to the Czech Anarchist Federation, which published his prison diary, Jedu do Magadan, in Czech. I read the book a few years ago (in 2013, I think) and immediately thought it was great material for a theatrical performance. I later discussed the idea with director Adam Steinbauer, and, once we had the opportunity, it became one of the first plays that we created together in the newly established 3+kk Theatre.

While preparing for the performance, we tried to learn as much as possible about the current situation in Belarus and the fate of political prisoners, including ‘anarcho-partisans’. And now we are trying to keep abreast of developments in the case because supporting political prisoners in Belarus with charitable actions is an important part of staging the play in the Czech Republic.

I was very inspired by the story of an important and meaningful political struggle, so painful and dear and close. It seems to me that the social and political situation in the Czech Republic is getting worse every year, and there seem to be very few ways to do something about it. This, in my opinion, is mainly due to the romanticization of the Velvet Revolution – the almost non-violent fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Western democracy practically fell into our hands in 1989, and the majority of Czech society is now unable to act radically for any social change. Therefore, watching the struggle of the Belarusian anarchists, I am both worried about the consequences and hopeful that a real political struggle for a fair world still makes sense. I am certain: Ihar’s story is something worth knowing for Czechs.

Ihar’s sentence is surreal and disgusting. It’s about the Belarusian government’s hatred of its own people. I would like to agree with Ihar that such trials are nails in the coffin of the Belarusian ‘authorities’ (as he states in his diary), but I am afraid that the road to a free Belarus is still long. I wish Ihar, his comrades, and their families the psychological and physical strength to endure the horror they face every day. I also wish that, in the end, the free Belarusians will be reunited and think to themselves, ‘it was worth it’.

‘It is important to develop the imagination  to be able to envisage through several stages. Everything is needed for a reason and will be needed in the future. There is no point in breaking your head over it, it’s better to be surprised by sudden, pleasant discoveries later. As Ryabov wrote, the schematic frameworks themselves are not important, but the direction of movement and the inner compass are. The road will be mastered by the walking one, and it is necessary to rejoice when each new day passes in this very all-encompassing movement’.

From the letters of Ihar Alinevich, source: ‘Right of Revolution’

Ihar Alinevich, photo by ‘Right of Revolution’

Anarchism today has significantly lost its popularity. Modern “adepts” often mindlessly repeat outdated and irrelevant slogans, practicing without a theoretical base or vice versa. Therefore, today, anarchism is sometimes justifiably considered a marginal movement and merely one of the “isms” (and not the most adequate one). But thanks to people like Ihar Alinevich, anarchy, freedom, honesty, and their direct implementation are gradually rehabilitating their sacred original intellectual meaning. Today, not only compatriots follow Ihar—his book is hugely popular in anarchist (and not only) circles from Ukraine to the Czech Republic and Germany. Moreover, thanks to the “black flag” case, the world is becoming familiar (if they aren’t already) with the real face of the Belarusian state. Ihar’s act is an unprecedented example of direct, bright (and somewhat spirited) resistance to the regime. The result in the form of a combined sentence of 79 years for four people is eloquent: the Belarusian regime is seriously afraid of those who practice direct action. But, as Alexander Delphinov said, ‘all authoritarian regimes have a common trait—they all collapse suddenly’, so we hope our dragon is no exception.

You can donate to support Ihar Alinevich at the links below:

Learn about Ihar Alinevich’s case and write him a letter

Support the work of the ABC and donate to support Ihar (specify Ihar Alinevich in the note)

Read about the Anarchist Black Cross

Interview with the 3 + KK theater