"The police should have protected me, not threatened me by forcing me to flee from them."

Alik is about 20 years old, from Moscow, a doctor by profession, an opposition supporter, activist, and public figure. He founded a small opposition Instagram-project. He participated in protests and shared his story with Eyewitnesses.

- I was born and raised in Russia. My life was like that of most of my compatriots. Going to school, choosing a profession, believing in a bright future. As time passed, I began to better understand that the bright future had been abolished. And we, the conscious part of civil society, had to fight the arbitrariness of government, violations of the constitution, the rights and freedoms of our citizens. We were forced to fight for the ordinary things that the constitution of the Russian Federation laid down for us.

After the war began, I participated in rallies and solitary pickets against the war and mobilization, supporting political prisoners.

One of the large-scale anti-mobilization rallies was the September 24, 2022 rally organized by the Vesna movement. Many articles have been written about the events of September 24. Here is my story recounting the horrors of that day.

The opposition was gathering near the Chistye Prudy metro station. I arrived about an hour after the start of the event. By then there were a lot of people, and numerous detentions had begun. The clashes that day were violent, as there was a lot of opposition, police and security forces.

My protest didn't last long: The cops caught up with me, too. There were two of them, full uniforms and batons. As one would expect from people who cause most of their pain and suffering.

One of them started the interrogation, while the other one was standing watch. First they clarified my identity, then they moved on to threats. I was well aware that if the police captured me, the consequences could be unpredictable. Be it torture, criminal charges, or moral damage. I was lucky that we were not far from the subway entrance at the time. Silently listening to the policeman's threats, I slowly, step by step, moved further away. When the feeling of fear passed, I rushed as fast as I could into the subway, where, with a lot of luck, I managed to escape.

I remember the atmosphere of that chaos, and I'm struck again by fear and the thought that if something had gone wrong, it could have ended sadly for me.

It saddens me to realize that expressing my own thoughts in Russia can lead to fleeing from the "defenders of law and order. The police were supposed to protect me, not threaten me by forcing me to flee from them.

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