A famous actor who once played a Russian soldier in a popular film was needed for filming State Duma of Russia turned off. When Artur Smolyaninov told Nova Gazeta Europa that he would fight on Ukraine’s side if he had to go to war, plans were quickly made to punish those who, like Smolyaninov, fled Russia and criticized from outside.

In an interview with Telegram, the speaker of the lower house of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, called people like Smolyanin “despicable” and proposed to amend the Criminal Code of Russia, which would allow the state to confiscate the property of Russians who “live well” abroad.

But for many of the hundreds of thousands who have escaped from Russia, including journalists who had to leave or be jailed for telling the truth, their hastily improvised exile was less comfortable. They have left their homes and families behind indefinitely, and because their country is on the wrong side of this war, they don’t always feel welcome in their new homes. However, the situation for them will get worse if another punitive measure in question is applied. In general, renounce Russian citizenship.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
(Aleksandr Dzemianchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Basin Photo via AP)

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“Losing Russian citizenship can be a really hard blow, because today we still need some documents,” says Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the special services in exile and author of the book “Compatriots”, about how Russian dissident emigrants were hunted. after some time. “And applying for political asylum is a very difficult process. Many of my friends, journalists and activists, do not want to apply for political asylum because they want to remain active. If you apply, you can’t work.”

It is even more frightening, says Soldatov, that there were even threats to go after the deportees, wherever they were.

“We have a former president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the Security Council, who is proposing to send death squads to Russian exiles who remain politically active. And he said it very openly, which was a new low for the Russian state.” In fact, it was a veiled reference that Soldatov and others took as a deadly threat. Medvedev, also addressing Telegram earlier this month, said: “Let’s remember the experience ” Great Patriotic War” (this is how the Second World War is called in Russia). There were always special rules in wartime. And quiet groups of impeccably inconspicuous people who perform them spectacularly.”

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at the Russian Council on International Affairs in Moscow on March 23, 2012.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at the Russian Council on International Affairs in Moscow on March 23, 2012.
(AP)

Quoted by the TASS agency Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Kremlin with a cryptic comment about the fate of the exiles. “They are all our citizens, all equally, and all of them may have different reasons for leaving. This is a very difficult topic.”

It is not yet clear whether these punitive proposals will be implemented, but a strong message has been sent. I asked Soldatov why the Russian government, which at the beginning of the war talked about cleaning up “scumbags” and “traitors”, was not content only to see the backs of hundreds of thousands who opposed the war and left? Why try to punish those who are not there?

“We are talking about several things,” Soldatov said. “First of all, we see that people in the country rely heavily on information that they get from outside if they want to know the truth, and this is an interesting and dramatic change, for the first time in history people in Russia rely on information from Russian journalists who are now in exile.

Russian police detain a demonstrator protesting against the mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, September 24, 2022.

Russian police detain a demonstrator protesting against the mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, September 24, 2022.
(AP photo)

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“But the matter is also different. When the Kremlin finds itself in a difficult position, they tend to look to the past to try to find methods that have worked. And these days it is more and more about Stalin’s times. They really believe that under Stalin the special services were extremely effective.”

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