Interview with Pavel Gabor: “I was afraid of being there”

On September 22, 2009 during the Federal Migration Service raid in the Roma settlement near Saint Peresburg, Anna Lakatos, Pavel Gabor and Aladar Forkos – Roma-magyars born in Beregovo, Carpathian Ukraine – were arrested as having no documents. Pavel Gabor was imprisoned at the police station for 3 days: “They did not give me even a piece of bread, the only food I ate was what my wife brought for me. They did not give me blankets either.”

Later the Kolpino town court found them guilty in violating the migration regime and punished them with 2,000 rub fine. The court also stated to expel them from Russia. Before the deportation the non-documented Roma were moved to the detention centre on Zakharyevskaya street. The conditions of the detention can hardly be considered satisfying.

Pavel Gabor describes the centre:

“For 1,5 months we slept on the metal and logs, they did not give us mattresses. After 3 months of detention I was given a blanket. It was very cold all the time, especially in the winter. So cold that I could not sleep. I never took off my coat. In the winter and autumn time we slept 3-4 hours, during the summer we slept all day long. We never had any soap. I never saw my relatives. At 6 a.m. we had porridge and water, but it was impossible to eat it. At 1 p.m. we had bread and tea without sugar. And that is it. I had no meat or fruits for a year. At 6 p.m. we had a soup: water with pasta, one portion was about 300-400 grams. I spent half a year inside the centre without any walks. Then in the spring we had a little walk – 15-20 minutes – once two weeks. Pigs are not treated like we were. Those who live there for a year can easily get sick and die. I had a cold constantly. When I asked for a doctor, the guards told me he was not there. If you insist, they can give you Analgin 4-5 days later. And that is it. They never gave us any other medicine.

There were no table or chairs in the cell. There were no sockets, no radio or newspapers. Toilet – a hole in the floor like 200 years ago – was right in the cell. The floor was concrete. They gave us nothing to drink – only one cup of tea a day. The guards yelled at us and insulted us all the time. I was together with the Tajiks in the cell: if they speak loudly, 2-3 guards start beating them and then put them into the lockup They shouted at us: “Sit on the floor! Sleep!” But it was very difficult to sleep. The lights were on all day long. My eyes hurt because of it. There was no air in the cell. The guards never opened the window. They would not care if we had died there. Aladar and Anna were in a different cell; I could not talk to anyone in my language. We were afraid of “cops” all the time – they beat us with legs 5-6 times a year. If only one of us did something wrong, they beat everyone. We were not allowed to see our relatives or called them. The guards told us: “If you have money, then we can discuss it.” I had no money, so I could not call anyone. I never changed my clothes during the year. We had 10-15 minute shower once in 2-3 weeks. I always had stomachache – because of the food and hunger. I also had headache.

Even if you have a passport they hold you there for half a year. Georgians or Uzbeks were kept there for a year, 2-3 days before the end of their year of imprisonment they were usually moved to Krasnoe Selo to be deported. Many of us had tuberculosis – several young guys were with me for 3 months. They caught it as well. I do not know if I have it. A doctor never observed me.

There I was thinking all the time. I thought about my brothers, relatives, my family and friends. I thought if they were fine. I always thought of the time when I am free again. I was afraid of being there. You can get ill and die there. It was also pity that the whole year ran away, but I did nothing. To be there one year for no reason was very sad.

The lawyer of the ADC Memorial, Olga Tseitlina, prepared and sent a complaint on violation of articles 3, 5 (1) (f), 5 (4), 13 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to the European Court of Human Rights. In April 2011 the ECHR committed Russia to pay 30 000 euro compensation to each of the arrested Roma.

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