Andrei Shavlyugo: In terms of technical issues, my trial was pretty much the same as Maria's one. I couldn't hear half of the trial either. Many trials had a witness in a balaclava named Kovalyov. However, even through the balaclava, it was clear that all these Kovalyovs were different people. That Kovalyov saw three journalists from different media in different parts of the column and heard them coordinate the movement of students with the same phrase, "Keep moving!"
Maria Elyashevich: My colleague Nikita, who only speaks Belarusian, all of a sudden decided to speak Russian at the rally for some reason, and allegedly urged students to "demand their rights and freedoms". Witnesses were asked questions, "How do you recognize the person?" They replied that "he stood out". One of my colleagues stood out because he was a man.
Andrei Shavlyugo: A riot policeman gave me a gorgeous compliment. I stood out thanks to an athletic physique, a neat haircut, and a beautiful beard.
After the trial, we were told that our cases had been sent back for revision. We decided that the revision was good, that it meant we would be released and go home to sleep while they revised them. However, they turned out to be very hard-working and said they would finish our cases overnight, while we were to spend a "day" in the Okrestina detention center.
Maria Elyashevich: It was quite unexpected. We were a little upset, because even though there was a revision, it was distressing to be on trial for something you are not guilty of. And here they said that it was not only about justice – take out your laces from your shoes. And then everyone starts taking out their laces, pulling out belts and everything else. None of these things are allowed in the Okrestina detention center.
Andrei Shavlyugo: They took us away secretly in a 'Gazelle' minivan with windows tightly curtained. However, I still managed to wave at some girl. She later told the rest of the guys that she saw us.
Maria Elyashevich: We were put into cells with another person each. But in the morning they came to my cell and told me, "Take your stuff and follow!" I was escorted to another cell designed for six people and spent another two days there alone. No one explained anything.
The second day was the strangest. No information. I told the time by the scratching of forks and spoons against the plates. The forks scratched at lunchtime, which meant it was around 2 p.m. I kept waiting for the trial to take place, as we had been promised. One shall always keep one's promises! I walked around the cell, walked and walked until I saw it was already dark in the window, so I would unlikely see trial that day. The guys had a much better time in their cell, while I have nothing much to talk about. It's a shame.
Andrei Shavlyugo: Yes, we had fun. We made checkers from bread crumbs, but then some guys from a Medical-Labour Center were placed in our cell. They ate some of our checkers, so we had to replace them with chocolate from the parcels we received. So we later played with those guys – bread vs chocolate.
We got the parcels handed over to us very fast, much faster than other guys, as we later learned. At some point we started joking that we had a press tour around the detention center. Look how beautiful it was there! We sat in cells alone or with just one other person, played checkers, enjoyed life – the only condition was just stop doing journalism.
At some point, we heard the names of Dudinsky and Kohno (ex-TV presenters) shouted outside the door. We realized they were there too. It was a meeting place for wonderful people!
The night before the trial, I was summoned for questioning. They asked, "Well, where did you break through the crowd? Where did you go?" As far as I understood, they did not even know where the crowd was going, and they tried to find it out from me. It was very strange. I refused to answer and suggested continuing the next day, and for some reason they agreed.
The trial was practically a copy of the first trial. I didn't hear anything new. The judge was very annoyed with the connection and technical issues. Later, I saw the courtroom in photographs and I don't understand how I could even hear my lawyer, because he was standing on the other side of the courtroom.
I want to express my deep gratitude to the guys who found witnesses of my detainment, and the guys who volunteered to be witnesses at the trial. They saw me in my 'Press' vest, they saw that I was not coordinating anyone. That was a huge support for me during the trial. There were even some videos of us walking in the crowd. A riot policeman said that I had been walking at the front of the crowd, but the video showed that I had been at its back. It is absolutely unrealistic to coordinate a crowd while moving behind, as you can imagine.