Nina (Нина) Bahinskaja (Багинская)

* 1946

  • "Right in front of me they started spraying us with water from the water cannons. Then they started firing rubber bullets. I was told that people were wounded. And I saw ambulances coming as well. I was standing next to the sidewalk, on the grass where the trees were. And suddenly, this 'Omon' guy rushed towards me, he was a big one. He didn't hit me, but he knocked me down on the grass with his body. I wasn't in the middle of the street or something, I was where the sidewalk was. So I'm falling on the grass, and at that moment he rips the flag pole out of my hand and runs away from me like he's being shot at. And I'm like, 'Oh my gosh!' My hands hurt, I'm wearing bandages, and then there's my back, so as a result... Well, I'm old all right, just push me and I will collapse. Well then! I'm getting up after all – as I have to run after that flag, after that stick!"

  • "They had been trying to punish me on a material level. Most of the time. The government has been taking away half of my pension, they would just take it. I would get just half – two hundred Belarusian rubles (seventy-eight US dollars, more or less). And these two plots of land in the country, that's all I have, that's all that belongs to me on this Earth. They had taken both my cottages away from me, in Damashany and in Bluz. The authorities wanted to have them evaluated and sold. And people would already come to Damashany who wanted to buy the property – as it was closer to the city so there was a higher value. Several people tried. But I would laugh at them and say that I had a certificate that this had been a private property, that I had a proof that this land was mine, and as long as I would live I would never sell these cottages. And after my death, they will belong to my children and to my grandchildren, and even my great-grandson is growing up already.”

  • "It was after Easter, my grandmother would always paint eggs on that day. We loved this holiday because we always had a good, hearty meal. Especially because I loved eggs, and I still do. So I was eating these eggs, peeling off the red eggshell, and this teacher came in and went something like, 'There's no God. And it's not good to paint eggs.' I went to a Russian school. There was no Belarusian school in our neighborhood and all the teachers spoke Russian, only the Belarusian language and literature teacher spoke Belarusian. I would look at her and I would wonder what she was trying to say, and I would find it disgusting, the way she spoke. I would think: 'You are an adult, yet you keep telling me this rubbish. What a bastard you are!' But I had been brought up in a way so I wouldn't be rude to other people, and especially to people older than me. As it's pointless, swearing at them. Maybe that's why I can still remember this. But I told her how it was – that in our family, we would always paint eggs on Easter, that they were healthy and good for us. And that there was God for sure!”

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    Bělorusko, 08.07.2020

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I refuse to support dictatorship

Nina Baginskaja in 1951
Nina Baginskaja in 1951
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Nina Ryhorauna Bahinskaya was born on 30 December, 1946 in Minsk, Soviet Union, to a family of an engineer and a teacher. Since 1958, she had been cycling, participating in competitions within the USSR on the interstate level. In 1965, she sustained severe head injury from which she never fully recovered. She graduated from the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics in Minsk, and the Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University for Oil and Gas in Ukraine. She had been working as a geologist at the Belarusian Scientific Research Institute of Geology in Minsk. In 1988, Nina joined the Belarusian Popular Front – The Revival. Since then, she has participated in every protest against the regime. As a result, she has been persecuted, fined and had to face the authorities who had attempted to confiscate her property. In 2017, she was awarded the Viktar Ivashkevich Award, in 2018, she became the first laureate of the Syarhei Khanzhankov Prize. She gave birth to a daughter and a son and has been a grandmother and a great-grandmother.