“I’m really sorry for the country, but they’re just traitors”


Russian soldiers greet their families here in Bataysk in the Rostov region on September 26, 2022.

This idea haunts us. Soon, perhaps tomorrow, the Russian state will confront our friends with a terrible choice: to go to war or to go to prison. These friends who we sometimes know from childhood (and whose names we have changed to protect them) live in different cities and do various jobs. But now they have in common the expectation that the military commissioner knocks on their door, holding the mobilization order, Vladimir Putin’s invitation to war. How do they live with this?

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Nikolaï appears on the computer screen, dressed in a bathrobe, but wearing a military cap. He is 31 years old, he works as a blacksmith and lives in Voronezh, not far from the Ukrainian border. He has a girlfriend but he has no children. Andreï, we have always known him. He served in the elite Airborne Reconnaissance Detachment of Paratroopers. We ask him what he thinks of the mobilization. “300 kilometers from here, we have what must be called by name, a war. So if they call me, yes, I’ll go. “

fake military card

And there, on the screen, Nikolai begins to imagine an unlikely dialogue with the military commissioner who will perhaps come looking for him. “He will ask me: ‘Are you going there or not?’ I will reply: “Senior companion of the guard, I am a patriot, but I don’t want to be on the straw. I am 1000% prepared, I can assemble and disassemble a Kalash, I can shoot, even with a grenade launcher, I have a tank license, I am physically prepared. . I will go to fight, but not for you, my senior colleague, I will go, but only for the money. Please give me three “cakes” [3 millions de roubles, soit 54 000 euros] and 150,000 rubles [2 700 euros] every month and, ok, I’m ready to go for six months! “

Read the report by Elizaveta Chougounova and Andrey Kazantsev: Article reserved for our members Forgotten by Moscow, loyal to Putin: Fère-Champenoise, Russian fatalism

At the end of our conversation, Nikolai asks me if some of our friends want to avoid the draft by buying a fake military card, which would indicate their incapacity for health reasons. He can provide it for 240,000 rubles (4,300 euros). Nikolaï explains that these documents are selling like hot cakes.

“Either I come home with a lot of hilarious stories, or I won’t go back, but I’ll be a hero. ” Michele

Mikhail, 30, is involved in social media marketing for a large steel company. We worked together in the same company. Micha is a representative of the hipster youth. He lives alone. We often had lunch and parties together. He made us laugh with silly stories about his military service. He gives the impression that he doesn’t make the difference between his service and the war.

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