Yet still, August 9 was a turning point. In a political sense, everything turned upside down. My friends and I, we all voted in Grodno. I remember, we laughed a lot at a friend who forgot to take a picture of the ballot in order to send it to the "Voice" platform. Some people stayed at the polling stations to see the results, we stayed there for a while, but then we immediately went to the square. It was very important for us to go out on the streets on the day of elections so that the authorities could see that we are not indifferent, that it does matter for us.
We arrived a little early, there were not so many people yet, so we decided to sit by the road next to a flower bed — to wait. Literally immediately, 5 minutes later, a minibus drove up and half of our company was taken away. I sat in silence, I did not move, I almost did not even breathe. I could not believe it: they didn't take me simply because the bus was already full. I watched how they took my friends one by one, there was panic in my head, but I said to myself: "Don't move, don't move, stay calm". Of course, it was incredibly frightening, but the further it goes — the more you adapt: you just... feel nothing, as if something inside that is responsible for the fear turns off.
Even this day was telling in this regard. People from the square were dispersed, but after a while they came out again and filled the square, they were dispersed again — they came out again. And you see a huge column coming, and you don't see the end of it, that's really cool! All these months passed likewise: your fear just disappears, you do everything automatically. That same evening, I got into an interlocking line on the road with another 200 people who came to protest. Because of it, I later had to leave the country.
Overnight of August 9, I had some almost like Vietnam flashbacks: how we stand, the interlocking line, how the OMON [riot police] comes to beat us. And I remember, I woke up because I started to breathe so frequently, I was panicking, I really felt bad. My friends said they had experienced something similar too.