...do not give up and do not despair, do what you think is the right thing to do. Russia will definitely be free.
A few words about me
I was born in Russia to a military family. No, not that kind that wants their son to follow in their steps – my father loved me very much and wanted me to be smart, so to say formally educated. Even more so, my mother, being a Russian language and literature teacher, just wanted me to be a decent man and simply to be happy. Their love, at times very unnerving one, would even allow me to go studying philosophy – what a prosperous future for a child from a lower middle-class family! Yet, they do love me. Moreover, it is that military family in Russia (sic!) that not only accepted my coming-out, but even liked my husband very much!
For all those reasons above, along with many others, the 24th of February was the day when all the illusions and hopes vanished – Russia made an Orwellian nightmare come true with a postmodern touch where a truly fascist state is 'doing everything to stop fascism'. Yet the most disgusting crime is happening right now – not only Russia started the war with Ukraine, but it just keeps going while it's somehow clear that, no matter what your political views are – when one starts counting civilian casualties by hundreds, I'd like to name you all by name, but the list has been removed and there is nowhere else to look, something is definitely not right. And yes, my parents, being consumed by the propaganda, live this schizophrenic life – they still do love me, there's no doubt, but they support this crime, denying everything that is countrary to the official narrative and confirming everything that is told on the telly. Unfortunately, my feeble attempts to show what a real fascism is, that we need to focus and understand what's been happening here, in Russia, for ages, not somewhere else, not on the telly, are gone in smoke - my father starts screaming at me, my mother changes the subject.
The gathering storm
No, it did not start yesterday, nor did it start last Autumn. Despite me being a very private person, I somehow saw it coming. Of course, one cannot really know anything for sure, especially in human science, but as Russian political scientist Ekaterina Shulman said, it was the day of shame for all our political science, especially in Russia, as not us, but all the madmen were right in the end - Russia did start the war despite our predictions.
Probably, for me as for a gay person, some things were a bit more obvious (even though there are some exceptions. One wearing the oppressed shoes sees things a bit more sharply. As a teenager that was bullied for being different, I got used to hate any sort of physical violence. At the same time, being a Russian, I was taught that war is one of the most atrocious things in human history. Repressions go after, perhaps, but this lesson seems to be long forgotten.
This country took this direction a long time ago – the 9th of May was converted into a sabre-rattling macabre show long before Crimea was annexed or even the Russian tanks came to free yet another neighbour. NTV’s management was changed long, long before Dozhd, one of the last independent channels, was finally blocked and Echo of Moscow, the only and the last opposition radio, not without its controversies, was destroyed (its YouTube channel had been blocked in Europe a few days before that, though, for some reason). Even starting from the very beginning, when they refused to acknowledge the crimes against the Baltic states. It wasn't exactly yesterday when they prohibited telling children about our existence in school and denied that some of us were killed in Chechnya.
This country has been 'collecting' all the makings to become a fascist state for quite some time. Being suspended from the European Council and furtherly leaving it of their own accord, having been cut from them global market, having blocked almost all the opposition media, being one of the most heavily policed countries in the world; the country, where calling the war by its name can get you into jail for up to 15 years, where, in that very prison, you can be raped, Russia, doomed itself to be isolated from the West, will find its own ways. Upcoming oligarchs cannot have their billions safe in Europe – how would they become rich again? Slavery might be a nice option, considering that one MP once mentioned that the Russian servdom, banished only in 1861, was deeply misunderstood. Will they lift the Moraturium on Executions as, quoting our ex-president, Medvedev, leaving the European Council is "a good opportunity to restore a number of important measures to prevent especially serious crimes... which is actively used in the US and China" to protect their goods, their power? As soon enough the European Convention on Human Rights will stop to be a thing, criminalising homosexuality might be a nice way to celebrate the Russian autheticity, right? Besides, gays were believed to be traitors and spies in the Soviet times. Are they not now? Anything can happen behind a closed door - more so, if it's locked from both sides.
I am safe
I am safe for the moment, I am in Spain, though anything can change for me as I am a Russian. I tend to trust in European justice, at least it's always been fair to me. Not ideal, just way better than hell. Working on this project, I just try to help my loved ones, the ones who, despite being poor, can still get to safety, be it the Czech Republic, Spain, or Georgia. Anywhere I can meet them again. I used to be a coward convincing myself that attending elections and going to demonstrations as long as they are safe and peacful may prevent the upcoming disaster. Apparently, it was never enough. We can no longer play the victim - I can no longer play the victim, this is their role, always 'being insulted', 'not recognised', to be a victim, not an agressor. It's not the way to gain our dignity back. My nation is commiting a crime right now - the very least I can do is to acknowledge it.
I've got this privilege to live in a democratic country where one can at least speak openly and publically. I fear no more, at least less than I used to. For the thing which I greatly feared came upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
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Our stand on the Russian invasion to Ukraine
Russia started the war against Ukraine. This war is happening from 2014. It has only intensified on February 24th 2022. Milions of Ukrainians are suffering. The perpetrators of this must be brought to justice for their crimes.
Russian regime tries to silence its liberal voices. Russian people against the war exist - and the Russian regime tries its best to silence them. We want to prevent that and make their voices heard.
Connection is crucial. The Russian liberal initiatives are hard to read for European public at times. The legal, social and historical context of Russia is not always clear. We want to share information, build bridges and connect the liberal Russia with The West.
We believe in dialogue, not isolation. The oppositional powers in Russia will not be able to change anything without the support of the democratic world. We also believe that the dialogue should go both ways.
The choice is yours. We understand the anger for the Russian crimes. It is up to you whether you want to listen to the Russian people standing against this.