Arnon Grunberg



Om abduction – Katrin Kuntz in Der Spiegel:

‘He arrived on a July day on the 11th floor of the Isabelle, a cruiseferry in the port of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. This is where he is now living. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the ship transported tourists between Riga and Stockholm; now it accommodates around 1,800 Ukrainians who have fled. Krasnikov, 23, is a diminutive, wiry man with blue eyes and good posture. When he walks across the deck of the ship, it looks like he's moving on a stage.

Before the Russian attack he lived with his cat in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. When he wasn't acting, he wrote poetry and read nonfiction. When he tried to flee from the attacks on his city in the spring, he ran into Russian soldiers. Then, as has presumably happened to hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens, he was deported to Russia.

According to a ruling from Moscow published on March 12, Ukrainians can be distributed to places ranging from the North Caucasus to the country's far east. Ukrainians seeking help registered in Perm near the Ural Mountains and even as far away as the Pacific island of Sakhalin in the east. "The Russians acted as if they were helping us," Krasnikov recounts, with astonishment in his voice.’


‘According to estimates published by the United States government, between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens have been deported to Russia since the beginning of the war. Many come from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics located on the Russian border, but also from newly occupied places in the Donbas, reportedly even from areas near Kharkiv and Kyiv. Since Feb. 24, some 50,000 Ukrainians have fled to Estonia, mostly through the border crossing near the city of Narva. Some, like Krasnikov, have come from deep inside Russia.’


‘Krasnikov says that he repeatedly told the Russians during interrogation that he didn't fight because he was the only son of his elderly parents. He didn't have a mobile phone with him because it had been lost in the destroyed theater. After 10 hours, the group continued their journey. Krasnikov says the people in the bus were too exhausted to care where they were being taken. Instead of going to Rostov in Russia, the minibus went to the port city of Taganrog, a hub for the distribution of Ukrainians in the country who have fled the war. They are gathered in gymnasiums here before being sent further.
"At the train station in Taganrog, we were told to get on a train to Tolyatti," which is located 1,300 kilometers further northeast of the Volga River. The collection point for fleeing Ukrainians had been moved there. "Can we say no?" he asked the Russians. He says they answered: "You can go wherever you want."’


‘Each day, the authorities approached the 200 newcomers with offers, bank employees had them sign up to open accounts so they could get the state welcome money of 10,000 rubles, the equivalent of 160 euros. Employees of social welfare agencies took care of families, and a car plant and a sewing factory offered jobs. Officials also offered the Ukrainians Russian citizenship.
Krasnikov refused the Russian passport, but he did open a Russian bank account. He was given shaving cream and underwear. The regional administration bought him an old-fashioned mobile phone. Krasnikov still has it with him. "For cracking nuts," he says, mockingly holding up the ancient model.’

‘Korbonova survived a missile strike in Mariupol. When shrapnel from a bomb pierced one of her boots, she said, her friend yelled at her not to cry, there was a man lying next to her with no head. She goes to smoke every 30 minutes.
She also left Mariupol in a bus of Russians who told her that it was too dangerous in Ukraine. She passed through a filtration camp in Novoazovsk, which has been part of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic since 2014, where she had to strip down to her underwear. Like Krasnikov, she was taken to Taganrog. In the gymnasium there, she says helpers told her she would be going to Khabarovsk, deep in eastern Russia. "You can find your dream job there." She says she wasn't given any choice in the matter.
But, Korbonova says: "Anything seemed better than lying dead in Mariupol." Together with her sister and her sister's family, she boarded the train that traveled across Russia. The journey lasted nine days. She says the views were wonderful. Meadows, deep forests. The train stopped every now and then and they would buy vodka.
She recounts that the 550 refugees from Mariupol arrived in Khabarovsk on April 29 at noon. Here, too, there was a crowd at the station. "Everyone wanted to talk to us." Korbonova says she pulled her hood over her head until she arrived at her new accommodations. On the video that she later showed to the New York Times, you can see a neatly prepared room with a television. Unlike Vladyslav Krasnikov, Korbonova tried to start a new life in Russia.’


‘On the internet, Korbonova came across an aid network for abducted Ukrainians. Using the messenger app Telegram, she got in touch with a woman in Russia who had connections to Estonia. The helper got her a plane ticket to Moscow, and from there Korbonova traveled by train through St. Petersburg to Narva and then on to Brussels on May 22. She is now learning English with a host family. She wants to earn money, maybe as a warehouse worker and then quickly return to Ukraine.
Krasnikov, the actor from Mariupol, also has plans. On the ship, he talks about his new job at the city's Russian-language theater. He found employment here after applying at only three places. But he doesn't feel like he has arrived.’

Read the article here.

I was told in Georgia in June that many Ukrainians fled to Russia, because it was the only place they could go to.

But there is still a difference between being forced to go to a certain place and fleeing voluntarily, even if there is only one place you can go to.

The Great Replacement is the favorite theory of contemporary fascists and their willing helpers in the West, but as this article points out, replacement is what Russia aims for.
The real replacement comes from Putin, the friend of the right-wing extremists in the West.

discuss on facebook