"It was necessary to dismantle the empire after August 1991.

Photo from the personal archive of Artem Langenburg

Artem Langenburg from St. Petersburg is 43 years old. The activist and journalist left Russia a week after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. At first he lived in Georgia, and later he moved to Armenia. Artem told why he left Russia and why he hoped Ukraine would win the war:

- I am not going to be original, on February 24 I experienced a feeling of great shock. That night I did not sleep, and I was the first of my friends and acquaintances to find out about the invasion of Ukraine. It was not a complete surprise to me, because for the notorious eight years Russian aggression in Ukraine had been escalating. I formulated it for myself as "an acute and hot phase of Russian intervention in Ukraine. At the same time, I did not assume that there would be a war in this very, classical, sense. I thought that the so-called hybrid intervention with the help of mercenaries and armed units of the DNR and LNR would continue. I was sure that the Putin regime benefited more from perpetual tension and hesitation between escalation and fake attempts at a peace settlement, the Minsk agreements. So direct aggression with the introduction of regular units came as an unpleasant surprise to me.

A week after the war started, I left Russia. I lived in Georgia for four months, and now I live in Armenia. In the coming months I intend to go to Europe.

I believe that peaceful protest and peaceful activism in Russia are impossible. And to participate in the armed underground and violent resistance - in the war against the fascist dictatorship that has been established in Russia - I do not feel able to. It's not even a question of desire, but of not having the necessary skills. I would quickly go to jail or be killed, which I would not want.

I see the main reason for the invasion of Ukraine as the fact that the dismantling of the Russian, and later Soviet, empire was not done in full - and had not even begun. The empire had to be dismantled after August 1991. There were no lustration, no removal from power and decision-making by the KGB and other punitive structures, and no removal of the former functionaries of the Communist Party and other Soviet organizations. Undoubtedly, the main reason for this nightmare is Russian imperialism.

I think we were all a little wrong about Putin. First of all, the left-wing activists who thought he was the top man of the Russian ruling class. And that if we replaced Putin with someone else, nothing would change. I think we underestimated the degree of personal insanity of this man, as well as the scale of his authoritarian power. Putin has created an authoritarian type system in which his personal likes and dislikes play a fundamental role in the political decision-making process.

I think that Putin's regime is an absolute fascist dictatorship, as it was in Latin America. It is somewhat similar to the fascist regime in Italy, the regime of the Portuguese dictator Salazar, and the dictatorship of the "black colonels" in Greece.

I am afraid that this war will drag on for a long time, there will be a lot of death and destruction. And I hope only for the AFU, for the Ukrainian territorial defense units and for the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people. The more weapons and aid to Ukraine, the more likely the Russian imperialists will be defeated as soon as possible.

And I hope - but this is a ghostly hope - for the rise of some anti-war and anti-regime underground in Russia itself. For example, the arsons of the military registration and enlistment offices that have been going on since March of this year are more like symbolic acts. But they inspire hope that some people will overcome the amorphous nature of the political opposition and undermine the regime from within, really as a "fifth column. This will not be a decisive blow to the regime, but it will be a good help in the struggle of Ukrainians against it.

The future of Russia as an integral entity, as an empire, I hope not to see at all. I think that one of the conditions of freedom for the peoples inhabiting the present RF and suffering under the yoke of the present dictatorship will be the disintegration and collapse of this monstrous entity, which poses a threat to humanity.

I see Russia, or rather, the future unknown state formation that will emerge in place of today's Russia, as free. I see Ukraine defeating this terrible, monstrous Russian machine. A Ukraine integrated into Europe. I am an optimist, and I believe it will happen.

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