Our president is a bloody ghoul. This is the consequence of our actions

Ivan Luzin is an activist from Kaliningrad who worked at Navalny's headquarters. In 2022, Ivan was arrested for organizing a rally against the war. Now he lives in Warsaw. Ivan believes that the main thing is to make Russia stop bombing Ukraine and sit down at the negotiating table.

Tell us about yourself.

- My name is Vanya Luzin, I'm 41 years old, I'm from Kaliningrad. I was a staff member at Navalny's headquarters, an activist, then I tried to become a politician, but it so happened that for those who were staff members, their political career was prematurely terminated. And then my colleagues started to be imprisoned, and I decided to leave the country. The war broke out, I served my 20-something days and left almost immediately.

What were you detained for?

- It so happened that when the headquarters were closed and the activists' activities were severely scrapped, I still had access to some channels and could write in the old chat room. When the war started, I wrote: "Let's get together for a rally. This is the organization of the rally, and for this I was arrested and sent to the TDF even before it started.

Do you remember the day of February 24, '22?

- I overslept and saw a message from a friend: "Imagine, I was up all night watching it all live. He didn't say exactly why he was watching it. I started reading the news in the late morning and found myself in shock. On the one hand, by that time it was clear that the war would begin, everything had already been officially announced a few days earlier, and everything was clear, but still it was a shock. I cried.

Whose fault is it that so many people's lives have gone wrong?

- It seems to me that there are specific actions, and specific actions have a specific culprit. If at one moment Vladimir Putin started the war, he is the culprit. If at another moment a particular soldier commits a war crime, he is guilty of that crime. One might ponder how his mother raised him and whether it was her fault, but it seems like an unnecessary complication. Capable people must be held accountable for their actions. Are we, the citizens of Russia, responsible for the fact that our president is a bloody ghoul? Yes, it is a consequence of our actions. Or inaction. I believe that it is normal for a person to live according to his conscience, to do his job, to take care of his family. On the other hand, we end up with what we have. Many of us lived by conscience and probably weren't very interested in politics. As a result, we found people who were interested in politics in their own way, and not in the way we like.

Why does Putin need this war?

- This is a mystery to me. A popular mistake is ascribing rational behavior to people. I'm trying on a rational level to understand why this is, because it seems like an obviously destructive strategy. It's bad for everyone on either side. Sometimes you want to explain it away as insanity. This attempt at explanation is a simplification. There seems to be a lot of scoop in Vladimir Putin. And this platitude: "In order not to have a war" must be in all of us "sovoks. And so how can you start a war and bomb Kiev, having been brought up on June 22? I can't understand it.

Do you feel responsible for what happens?

- I feel responsible for what happens. I guess I have a tendency in general to feel responsible, including for things I can't control. At some point I became an activist. Up until that point, on the contrary, I was an apolitical person. Such trivial things as not going to the elections because I was busy doing something else were probably commonplace for me.

Are you now opposed to the war?

— Осенью 21-го я решил, что уеду из России. Когда посадили Лилию Чанышеву, очень многие бывшие сотрудники штабов тоже решили уехать, так что я не был исключением. Стало понятно, что просто ничего не делать или делать что-то максимально легальным и не похожим на предыдущие действия способом недостаточно. Лиля была человеком, закончившим всякую деятельность. Она хотела заниматься семьей и макраме. Человека, максимально отошедшего от активности, посадили, и стало понятно, что надо валить. На то, что происходило в городе, просто невозможно было реагировать. У меня был набор административок в связи с митингами, и если бы я еще раз засветился, то в следующий раз могли бы сформировать «Дадинскую» статью. Примерно с того момента я вел себя довольно тихо. Но потом наступило 24 февраля, и оказалось, что невозможно промолчать, да и вроде как больше некому. На свободе происходило очень много всего, а примерно с обеда 24 февраля и больше 20 дней я был отрезан от новостей. О следующих митингах, каких-то активностях и репрессивных законах я узнавал с опозданием и урывками. Стало понятно, что попытка позвать кого-то действовать опасна для людей. Плюс к этому у нас с женой была договоренность, что если будет необходимость и возможность, они могут выезжать из страны не ожидая меня. Мы с осени знали, что будем уезжать, и некоторые вещи уже успели обсудить. Единственное, кроме психологической неготовности, что нас держало — мы хотели сделать ребенку прививки. Жена с детьми выехали, и, выйдя из-под ареста, я тоже выехал вслед за ними. Основное, чем стоит и можно заниматься, это думать о том, что делать, чтобы война скорее остановилась. Я несколько раз волонтерил на границе. Помощь беженцам — это борьба с последствиями. Мне казалось и все еще кажется, что война невыгодна и не нравится большинству жителей России и людям, которые считают себя россиянами, но живут не в России. Смотришь маленькие интервью с пожилыми женщинами из России, и большинство из них (возможно, это та же самая советская прошивка) говорят: «Я желаю вам, чтобы не было войны». В какой-то момент я придумал свой небольшой проект. Идея была в том, чтобы собрать у какого-то количества людей, которые готовы подписаться под этим, обращение к человеку, который начал войну и гипотетически может ее остановить — к Путину, а потом доставить его ему. Все должно приводить к тому, что нужно перестать бомбить Украину, остановить активные боевые действия и сесть за стол переговоров. Чтобы этот проект реализовать, нужно было приехать в Россию. Он был так задуман и устроен, что нужно было приехать в Россию. Неделю я провел на родине и это теперь для меня загадка: то ли я такой ловкий, что уклонился от последствий (я старался уклоняться от потенциальной встречи с правоохранителями), то ли я такой неуловимый Джо, что про меня не вспомнили.

Was your anti-war project a success?

- I did not have KPIs or any strict criteria for success. There weren't very many referrals, a few dozen... Actually, it's no secret, there were 60 of them. Did I expect more? Probably, when I initially thought about it all, I expected more. On the other hand, if there were 10 or 5, I think it would still be votes against the war, even if there was only one other vote besides mine.

How many people do you think really support the war?

- There are conformist people. If we poll some people today and get the result that this many have declared their support, it doesn't mean that under slightly different circumstances the same people won't provide a different result a week from now. I refuse to believe that the majority of Russians meaningfully want bombs to fall on the homes of Ukrainians. If you look at it rationally, war is disadvantageous to the vast majority of people. Even if you don't look at it from an ethical or educational standpoint, things are getting worse in Russia. It seems to me that this is a strong argument for the Russians to be interested in a negotiated end to the war.

How do you see the future of Russia?

- Even before the war, it was clear that things were going to be bad, and for quite a long time. A quick normalization was impossible. But in the end, all will be well. Humanity evolves, and eventually life gets better and people become more humane. This is universal, and Russia will be no exception. There is a popular belief that Russia must lose, and then it will blow Putin away, because otherwise Putin will stay and start another war again. Putin will eventually die. One way or another, the government will change. Simply for physiological reasons, it cannot help but change. And with a change of power, there are gradual improvements.

Will you go back to Russia?

- I'm not sure I want to. I am increasingly coming around to the idea of building a life in another country. I guess the war and wanting it to stop is the only thing I would like to have a hand in to help both Russia and Ukraine. But so far I don't know how.

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