Unfortunately, all peaceful protests have not been effective in Russia so far. Here is the story of a Russian student who didn’t believe in these anymore and took another option to fight the regime – to join the Freedom of Russia legion.
Translation kindly provided by Volodymyr: https://twitter.com/VolodyaTretyak
Original video in Russian:
How the decision was made:
I was an ordinary student. Initially, I was a good student, but I was involved in the protest movement that we had in our country. In particular, I started in 2019, when there was the Moscow case, and many of my comrades and like-minded people were arrested and for the case, the FSB started sewing against them. And in 19, I also began to participate with them against the fraudulent elections to the Moscow City Duma. Unfortunately, the scoundrels in power parasitize because so many Russians remain infantile.
“Politics is a dirty business”, they say, and it is not worth doing. “People in the Kremlin are smarter. They know better”. But that story wasn’t about me. I didn’t want to remain a vegetable, just living his life. I wanted to do something for my country because of the state of things around me, I tried to find some rational explanation, but it did not work. It was the same way in 2020 when there was an agitation movement to introduce amendments to our Constitution. So I was putting up flyers with like-minded people.
Of course. I was on the radar of the Lubyanka guys because of that. Nevertheless, I understood that I had to counteract somehow. But everyone went to the protests, and I went with them because it was our opportunity to express our opinions, and we believed that our voice would be heard at the top and we would be able to overcome the silence that prevailed around us. Unfortunately, February of this year showed that just going to rallies and hoping for things to change is not enough. I felt ashamed and [sighs] unfortunately, irreparably hurt that I didn’t fight enough against the fact that Putin had started this war against a neighboring country that is quite close to us historically. Right now, the rhetoric here in Ukraine against Russia is justifiably negative. But I understand that ours that my fellow citizens who are now, who Putin has sent here directly, and they are needed to excuse me [sighs, nervous]. Sorry, I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this subject since February when I read this news, but I was embarrassed and decided. So that the rallies we used to have are not going to have that effect, that even if you come out with this placard, with a “no war” piece of paper, it’s not going to help you get back on track.
So I decided to look for another way to resist overthrowing the criminal regime that started this war. So I started looking on the Internet for information about the Legion. I had heard about it. I started looking for more information about it. And eventually, I became acquainted with its program and its mission, which it pursues, and I subsequently found myself faced with the decision to join them or continue somehow clandestinely or covertly operating in Russia. But that decision was difficult for me, and I still decided it was worth the risk. Because unfortunately, the armed fight is the only method that will help my country return to the path taken by like-minded people like me who were there 30 years ago in 1991, who wanted freedom in precisely the same way, who tried to get away from the Soviet system – they were able to choose this. So I want that vector, that course my country has chosen to be realized in the future.
About relations with family, relatives and friends:
I haven’t discussed this topic with my mother much. My parents don’t know much because I live alone. I didn’t tell my mom about me being in the Legion, but I still knew she would be against it and worried. So I crossed the Russian border in secret from her. Before that, I sent my file to the curator of the Legion. They took a long time to study my case. I had to wait three weeks for my documents to be reviewed, and I ended up at the Ukrainian embassy in one of the Baltic States. So I applied there and ended up on the territory of Ukraine. In the ranks of my comrades-in-arms. I didn’t tell her because she has health problems and to give such information… Well, I have no idea. I said I went off to study to make money, but I understood that sooner or later, this information would come out, and she would find out about it. At that point, I didn’t say that because I understand that she have problems with her health.
About my environment. I tried to be among people who shared my views and vision of my country’s future. I was lucky that I could find people close to me in spirit during my time as a student. The situation with my relatives was much worse because propaganda does its own thing. Propaganda does its own thing with many relatives, and that’s why. Even before, I was forced to limit my statements about politics. Because they were already telling me at the time, “what are you doing?!” “Why do you need it? Why do you want it?” “Do you have a bad life?”
That’s not exactly what they told me, well, you understand me. Unfortunately, with my relatives, I had to be less open. I somehow had to get away from such conversations and topics. As for my friends, many also want to change my country, but at the same time, they can’t leave it for some reason. So they watched something with me and studied other ways to fight against Putin’s regime, including Legion. Still, not many were able to decide to leave Russia, considering the consequences for themselves and their families, because, again, this is a huge risk.