What does an inquiry, investigation or identification of truth look like? There is no inquiry and investigation. Now and then different people in police uniform or civilian clothes enter the prison cell and ask the same questions over and over:
- First and last name? 
- Polina Z. 
- Place of detention? 
- The polling station.

Later the door opens again, and the women are taken into the hallway and questioned:
- First and last name? 
- Polina Z. 
- Place of detention? 
- The polling station.
This time they take her picture and put her back in the cell.

More time goes by, how much no one knows exactly, the inmates have no clue what time of the day it is. Then a feeder opens, a small window in the door that is normally used to distribute food among the inmates, food that these prisoners will not see for three days. A sweet, polite woman in a uniform takes a seat on the other side and one by one beckons the inmates to the feeder for a conversation:
- Tell me your name and last name, please.
- Polina Z. 
- Can you tell me where you were detained, please?
- At the polling station.
- Thank you. 

Zhanna L. asks this lovely woman to search her things and bring her the diabetes medicine. Diabetics need to take medication. The sweet woman nods and promises to look for Zhanna’s medicine or, in case she does not find it, to bring some from the prison pharmacy. But she lies. Lies of course. She will not look for anything and will bring nothing. 

The protocol that Polina Z. is given to sign says that she was detained on Masherov Prospect where she took an active part in a protest rally that was held without permission from the Minsk State Council, shouting slogans “Stop the cockroach”, “Long Live Belarus”, “Leave”, “Freedom to political prisoners”.

Polina makes corrections to the protocol believing that this would matter later in court, signs it and goes back to her cell. There she would learn that the same police officer who, as her protocol said, detained Polina on Masherov Prospect, also arrested ten of her cellmates in different parts of the city, all at the same time.

Tanya P.’s protocol says that she was detained on Masherov Prospect where she took an active part in a protest rally that was held without permission from the Minsk State Council, shouting slogans “Stop the cockroach”, “Long Live Belarus”, “Leave”, “Freedom to political prisoners.” It was copy-pasted word for word. Tanya’s last name is also spelled differently in different paragraphs, and her passport number is wrong.  

What was the point of asking the last name a dozen of times if they still made mistakes in the protocol? The investigators learnt good cop/bad cop tactics in the police academy, or wherever it is they studied, but it seems they never did any of their coursework, only plagiarized it, copied from the Internet, so they do the same here, copy-paste protocols. 

Call the consul

Olesya S. is not questioned. She made it clear already on the bus that she was a Russian citizen and demanded to see a consul. She said the same when they were taking her to the cell. 
- Eyes forward you bitch, I don’t give a damn about your Russia!    

And now there is no questioning. Olesya hopes that the consul will come for her. Or someone from the Embassy, they cannot just leave her here. Olesya also hopes that some of her friends are already calling the Russian Embassy in Minsk. She is correct. They are calling. But the Embassy does not react. “There is nothing we can do” they say and hang up the phone. Your homeland will abandon you, child. Always! And even when Olesya is released and calls the Embassy personally “What was this about, Homeland?”, its employee simply replies, "You are free now, right? So be happy.” 
Remember, the homeland will abandon you.

Everyone is being questioned. Olesya is not. Everyone is being photographed. Olesya is not. Everyone is being taken to court. Olesya is being left in the cell. She cannot be tried in Belarusian court she is a citizen of a different state, but she cannot be released because no one is released. And Olesya becomes scared. What do they do to people whose names are not on any roster or list? Will they let her rot here in Okrestina prison cell? Will they kill her, hide her body, and declare her missing?  
- You forgot me, Olesya screams, I have not been interrogated or put to trial! You forgot me! 
She is volunteering to go through the grind of this lawless court process. 

Imitation of the State

When Zhanna L. and Polina Z. are taken to sign their protocols, the hallway is full of people. Men are forced to go down on their knees to sign the protocol. If someone decides to read it before signing, the prison guards close the document with their hand. You do not need to read it, you need to sign it. 

Zhanna and Polina are allowed to read, however. They correct grammar mistakes in their protocols and sign them hoping that if they obey the insane prison rules they will be released quicker.

Lena A. signs also, though adding a comment that she does not agree with her sentence. She hopes that this signature, this partial admission of guilt will result in a fine, not detention. Katya K. writes a comment "do not agree" on each page but still signs hoping that for her compliance they will release her husband. Or at least will not beat him.     

Hanna L. also makes corrections but refuses to sign. Later the woman will figure out the overall formula: it seems that those who signed without looking got 5 days of detention, and those who refused to sign got six. In reality, the Belarusian repressive apparatus does not have this kind of guidelines, but the inmates really want to find at least some kind of logic in the actions of their jailers, investigators and judges. Their brain refuses to understand that they are surrounded by complete chaos, organized by people with weapons and an infinite mandate to violence.  

Nastya B. will write “I do not agree with the accusations” in her protocol and sign her disagreement statement instead of the actual protocol. This is an attempt to maintain dignity. Over the head of the young woman who is trying to preserve her dignity, one prison guard shouts to another:
- Check her out, she does not agree. Finish her off!
- Hands behind your back! Let's go! 

For a moment Nastya does believe that she is being taken to be executed. But they take her back to the cell. It seems that the prison guards, policemen and investigators are completely indifferent whether the detained sign their protocols or not. All these interrogations, all this fuss with signatures is nothing but an imitation of the State of law. 

Name and title

It is hard to find courage to insist that law and order is upheld in conditions of complete lawlessness. But Olga Pavlova finds it. She is an activist.

Even before any protests began, she wrote a letter to the Ministry of Defense, urging the army to protect the people from the dictator. She even received a reply from the Ministry. Some general probably had a lot of fun composing a witty retort like “our President is the Commander in Chief, and you are a fool if you think that the Army will protect women, who only supply it with recruits, from superiors who supply it with livelihood.” In response, Olga, being a doctor and thus eligible for mobilization to the Army, returned her military papers to the Commissariat and attached a letter where she refused to serve in an Army that does not protect the people from the tyrant.

Now Olga is silent during the investigation. More exactly, she answers with her own questions and insists that the investigation proceeds according to the law.
- Name and last name? - asks the interrogator. 
- I’ll gladly introduce myself, answers Olga, after you do the same. State your name, rank, and position. 
The interrogator does not introduce himself.
- Place of detention? 
- I will gladly tell you everything but you forgot to introduce yourself. What is your last name? Rank? Position?

Her cellmates get angry at Olga and try to admonish her: - Don't start with them. It will only make things worse. You’ll make them angry, Olga, and they will keep not just you, but all of us here. 
But they are already angry! And they already keep us here. And Olga insists, demands that one simple, prescribed by the law rule is observed: investigators should identify themselves.
But they do not. Instead, one of the armed anonymous guards takes Olga to the courtyard, with full force kicks her just below her knees so that her legs give out and huge bruises left by heavy military boots spread all over her calves. 

But Olga doesn't give up. After this arrest, she will be arrested three more times. The fourth arrest will end in a prison term. Not five days this time, three years. The prison sentence, however, will be replaced with "home chemistry" but there will be more on that later.