(Journalist and fixer from Russia, JiR in 2022)
“When we were saying goodbye at Minvody airport in early March, my husband said: “If I get arrested and they demand that you come back, don’t come back for anything. I’ll find my own way somehow…”. This is to give you an approximate idea of the mental state I was in when I was leaving Russia.
I had multiple reasons to flee: from anti-war posts on social media to the interrogations I had been undergoing for the whole previous year, on charges of terrorism and extremism. The situation was aggravated by the fact that I cooperated with numerous European and American media outlets as a fixer. Under the new laws, I had not done my duty as a journalist for eight years, but helped “hostile organisations” to cover events at the Russian-Ukrainian border. All this left no hope. Hope came a few days later, when I came under the custody of ECPMF. When I am saying ‘custody ‘, I don’t just mean help in obtaining travel documents, constant counselling, and applications, which helped me and my son get to Germany at the end of April. As well as that, there were hours of simple and encouraging conversations, emotional support, sympathy and empathy. In the spring of 2022, being Russian in Europe was as difficult as it would have been to stop being one.
Thanks to the support programme, my son and I ended up in Leipzig. We were given a place to live and a few months of quiet time to figure out what to do next. As I write these lines, my son is still in German school, I am finishing a synopsis for a documentary I hope to make with my colleagues, and I am going to the thrift shop to get a set of plates for our new rented apartment. We’ve decided that we’re not going to buy brand new dishes – it seems to make our new home a little cosier. Clearly, nothing will ever replace our abandoned home. And the thought that I and hundreds of my companions won’t be able to return sometimes makes me breathless. But then I remember how many people help me, how much effort it took to get me back to my daily and professional life, and I take another breath.
Thank you, ECPMF.”