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(en) France, CNT-AIT, Anarchosyndicalisme #179: Interview with Yvan, deserter... (ca, de, it, fr, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 28 Jan 2023 09:40:13 +0200

Ivan is a young man who fled Russia not to be enlisted in the Russian army and also to flee the threats against his life because of his dual origin, Russian and Ukrainian. Interview by the solidarity initiative which Olga Taratuta participates in her reception. ---- Olga: Hello Ivan ---- Ivan: Hello Olga. My name is Ivan, I am a 24 year old young man. I live in Moscow, where I live with my mother who is Russian. I am of Russian nationality, although my father is Ukrainian and lives in kyiv. I am a humanities student. ---- Olga: How did you learn about the start of the war in Ukraine? ---- Ivan: I was traveling in Europe with my boyfriend, with a Schengen tourist visa. He returned directly to Russia. I understood, given my personal situation, that the situation could be complicated for me. I enrolled in a university in the European country where I was then to be able to benefit from a long-term "student" visa and try to build a future for myself far from the madness of war. Already I couldn't see myself being able to set foot in Russia again. However, to benefit from this visa, I had to return
in Russia to officially apply for a student visa at the embassy of the country in question in Moscow. At that time, the embassies were not closed, and everyone was pretending to
respect a certain "formality". I therefore returned to do the required administrative procedures. However, when I returned, I immediately understood that it was not going to be easy. In addition, on my phone, I started receiving very explicit death threats from complete strangers, due both to my Ukrainian paternal origin and also to the fact that I am homosexual.
How did these people get my phone number and information about me? I don't know... Maybe through the Military Recruitment Center? You should know that in Russia military service is compulsory for all young men and that from the age of 18, you must go to register at the Recruitment Center in your neighborhood or city.

Olga: What was your reaction to Putin's announcement of the mobilization?
Ivan: When Putin announced the mobilization, I understood that I was in great danger, because the Russian army needs cannon fodder. The administrative procedures for my student visa were blocked anyway. So I decided to run away. As my Schengen tourist visa was still valid, I left for Azerbaijan to then join Europe. I had read in the media, especially social media, that Germany said it welcomed Russians fleeing the army, so I chose to go to this country even though my visa had been granted by France.

Olga: how were you received in Germany?
Ivan: It was a big disappointment. I was immediately made to feel that I was not welcome, contrary to what is proclaimed everywhere. When I got off the plane, I went to see the immigration services to file an asylum application. Ironically, I was made to understand that if I had Ukrainian nationality (I could have applied for it since my father is Ukrainian, but I never applied, because for me nationality does not really importance, it is only an administrative formality) I would have had
immediate refugee status. But as a Russian, I bothered them more than anything else... They then immediately took me to an Administrative Detention Center (CRA) which is located within the airport. This center is in a "customs free" zone so officially it is not German territory, it is a kind of "no mans land". In fact, it is above all a prison.

The German cops were very cold, very "administrative" in their dealings with the detainees. I was almost the only European, all the others were refugees from Sudan, Turkey, Afghanistan. I have
noted that the police behaved racistly in the sense that they did not treat me as harshly as other refugees. This made me sad, because I felt solidarity with my other comrades in misfortune. Otherwise, you should also know that this prison is managed by the German authorities as a "hotel": if you have the financial means, you must pay for your stay: 135 euros per night! A prison at the price of a 3 star!!! As they had seized the cash I had on me, they just had to help themselves! So they took 4,000 euros from me for the month I spent in the centre, which is more than half of my savings!

Olga: how did you end up in France
Ivan: after several weeks, they explained to me that they would not grant me asylum, because under the Dublin procedure, I would have had to file it in France, the country that issued my visa. So they were going to deport me to France.

And in addition, I was banned from German territory for at least 30 days for not having respected the rules of entry into the territory!!! After a month, they told me that they had reached an agreement with the French authorities and that I would be expelled immediately, so I had to be ready to leave at any time! They asked me if I knew anyone in France who could take me in, but I didn't know anyone. I informed my mother by telephone, who made her network of friends work. Finally, she found me a person who agreed to say that she would be my referent on the spot. On D-Day, the German border police came to pick me up without notice to take me on a plane, telling me that I would be expected when I arrived in France.

Arrival at destination, in the airport closest to the place of residence of the contact provided by my mother, in fact no one was waiting for me. Neither the contact of my mother who had not been informed, nor the border police. An airline steward told me where to report. Arrived at the police station, they looked at me, surprised, not understanding who I was or what I was doing there. Eventually, after rummaging through their computers, they finally found the message from the Germans informing them of my arrival. They told me that I could leave, since I still had a valid tourist visa anyway. And they gave me the address where to go to file an asylum application.

Olga: What happened next?
Ivan: Finally, I was able to reach my mother's contact. A very nice but very old person. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay with her for long. Through an association in Germany helping deserters, with whom I was already in contact when I was imprisoned in the CRA, I had contacts
with various associations in France, including Olga Taratuta.
Finally, someone generously offered to temporarily accommodate me in the Paris region, where I was able to formally file an asylum application.
Applying for asylum is a real obstacle course: you have to make appointments with multiple services and administrations, standing in endless queues during which the police mistreat you. And me again, I'm lucky because being European, I can see that the cops are nicer
with me than with other African or Asian asylum seekers, whom they really treat like dogs.
Once I have finished this series of interviews, I should wait to be fixed on my fate. It may take several months.

Olga: how are you surviving during this time?
Ivan: I have what's left of my savings, but life is expensive in France. My mother sends me some money that she transfers via friends who reside in Turkey or elsewhere, to circumvent international banking restrictions. But it is also very expensive.
And then my mother is not very rich and she has just lost her job. I also make drawings, maybe I can sell some to earn some money?

Olga: how do you see your future in the short and medium term?
Ivan: what I already know is that I will never set foot in Russia again. I don't want to go back there anymore, this country is dead to me. I intend to go to the European university where I registered, because the studies they offer interest me and I think that it can give me opportunities in the future. You should never lose hope.

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