"Protest media coverage is already a good thing."

Photo from the hero's personal archive

Maxim is 44 years old. He is a high-tech specialist, born in Khabarovsk. Made a career in Moscow. Went all over Russia. He managed to work in leading European and American IT companies. Immediately after the outbreak of war in Ukraine emigrated to Argentina. Maxim always knew how to anonymize protest actions in Russia and fought the system on the Internet. In emigration, he continues his "subversive" activities and helps build life for the Russian diaspora.

– As for Russian politics and the direct perception of Putin, there were several moments when I felt "f***ed up". The first time was when Yeltsin said that "I'm tired," I'm a "flapper," "Putin will take my place. I thought: why the hell did they decide this for me? The second moment was when we reclaimed the Crimea. I understand the "krymnash" people, but that's not how it's done. This is not the 19th century.

Then Nemtsov was assassinated in a show. Colorful, staged. Honestly, I really wanted to see him as President. When he was removed, I realised that the prospects in Russia are "the end". Then they poisoned Navalny.

Nevertheless, for me an open political position was impossible. You can only do it anonymously in Russia. I once found myself on Bolotnaya Square during a crackdown. And I understood that during Nemtsov's time all of this happened. I was caught in the crossfire. I realised that I couldn't just go to jail and get my family in trouble. Not many people are capable of that. 
In Argentina
Photo from the hero's personal archive

But if you want to anonymise yourself – it's very easy to create a profile of some Ivan Ivanovich through a social network – you can do that. It is impossible to remain silent. Even anonymous expression of one's position is already a good thing: it creates a  protest media coverage. I talked to the "Kremlin bots. I used facts: "the city has no sidewalks and no streetlights," etc.

Silence is unacceptable. Maybe the people who read this will have some doubts. I deeply bow to those who openly oppose the regime. But I was always afraid that the system would go further and, like in the days of the KGB, take on their relatives and friends. So my protest was anonymous.

All the propaganda on television reminded me of some history books, when they told me about serfs: you are nothing at all, and you can be wiped your feet on. And social elevators were available to those whose father was an FSB man. I felt this segregation clearly.

Photo from the hero's personal archive

I have a lot of experience working for foreign companies. I have travelled a lot, talked to people from Europe and the USA. I understood that the IT sector in Russia is generally stagnant. This industry is moving towards the graveyard by leaps and bounds.

 Some relatives work in the FSB or the armed forces, so in February, a week before the 24th, I already knew what was going to happen. The military guys who went to Belarus for exercises were told, "You're not coming back in February".

I had a pregnant wife. It had to be decided what to do. It was clear that the child's future depended on which country he was born in. And I understood that neither I nor the child had a future in Russia.

In Argentina
Photo from the hero's personal archive
On February 24, a feeling of hopelessness overwhelmed me. I realised that there was nothing I could do. It would not be war, it would be genocide. It doesn't matter at all who the genocide is. Everything that is alive, that moves, will fall into the meat grinder. That Putin starts this "fuck-up," and the whole world will have to clean it up. 

When my "a la patriot" acquaintances said that by March 8 we would have taken over everything, I didn't believe it. It was clear that there were people in Ukraine who would not give up. That they are stubborn. Now it is obvious that this war will be lost. And the main reason for this is that there is no ideology. The invasion is justified by lies.

Everyone already understands that even if there are 1,000 Nazis in Ukraine, that's no reason to bomb the whole country.

If people used to believe the TV, now they have begun to wake up. They began to watch the news not on TV, but on the refrigerator: winter begins, free food ends, sanctions begin to take effect. No matter how they draw the rate, everything is still expensive. It's as if the government has turned on delayed tactics and boils the frog over low heat, so that it does not notice how it boils itself. But when the frog dies, maybe someone will break Putin's head with an ashtray. I expect a sharp collapse of the ruble, just like in the '90s.

I had a lot to lose in Russia, believe me. Before we left, we were finishing building a house in the suburbs. It was my dream. We were saving up for our own house, in a clean place, beautiful, well-built. All that was left was the roof and finishing – I finished it all quickly, but I still bought tickets to Argentina.

At the construction site of a house in Russia
Photo from the hero's personal archive

Argentina was chosen because we are expecting a child, and it's as easy as possible to get legalisation there. Here I bought a simple car, some furniture and appliances. We don't live as lavishly as we did in Russia. But here I am confident about my life today. Here we have excellent food, meat, good free medicine, and free education, which is also good. I think there is a future here for my children. My parents, house, brothers, sisters, and two cars are still in Russia.

I know a lot of people in IT. Everyone has run away to somewhere else. Everyone is worried about their children. Some earlier, some later, but very many have left. The situation is heating up.

I very much hope that the war will end with a change of power. That a more popular government would take over.

The basis of the economy is a consumer society. This society must exist under certain conditions. When people have no roads or hot water, there is no such society. If, after the period of "turmoil," there is growth, Russia will become great.  If, after the "greys," the "blacks" come, it is frightening to imagine what will happen. Nothing will happen for Russia then.

Now this war cannot be won economically or ideologically. But Ukraine, I hope, will quickly become a state with a pleasant atmosphere, where tourists will come and people will be happy.

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