"Said he would turn my house upside down and be sure to find something extremist."
We recently had an interview with Elena Zholiker. Her family was put on the juvenile board for her daughter's avatar. After that we received a lot of letters. One of them was from Olesya (name changed), a 11th-grade student; we do not name the town for her safety. Her story is another example of the persecution of anti-war views in Russian schools. We publish Olesya's letter with minor editorial corrections:
- I want to share what's going on at my school in the Urals. I am in my senior year. At the beginning of the war in our school we tried not to talk about it in any way, anywhere, so that there would be no unnecessary controversy. At the beginning of April I was called to the head teacher. They shouted at me and made me delete anti-war posts I had written on social networks and some comments in the city's blogs that showed my attitude toward the war.
This school year things are a little different. The kids write letters to the front, the school holds collections of things for the mobilized, and the kids, who are members of the Russian Children and Youth Movement, sing a song about Putin and engage in other "patriotic" activities. For refusing to sing the national anthem at rulings or being late for "Talking About Important Things," some kids get their brains blown out.
I drew peace symbols and quoted lines from songs in the margins of my notebooks. A policeman recently had a conversation with me about it. The deputy principal decided to report me to the police for some reason.
They pulled me out, I think, from the third or fourth lesson and brought me to the head teacher's office. A policeman was already waiting for me there. He was a criminal investigator. He said he was also against the war, but knew what it was like and that's why he didn't speak out. He said I was going to ruin my whole life. He said that even a little time in the penal colony would create a lot of insurmountable obstacles in my life. He looked through my backpack and took some paper bookmarks out of my pencil case (I don't remember what was on them anymore). He said that if he was summoned like that again, there would be criminal charges. He was also going to turn my house upside down, and he was bound to find something extremist there. He took pictures in profile and full-face (as a scary criminal, ha-ha) and left.
Some of my classmates think that the war in Ukraine is a war between Russia and the West, and that the president of Ukraine is a puppet clown, so everything is being done as it should be. But I have acquaintances and friends who are against it, and with whom we are quietly horrified by the situation in the country. Although the best thing about people and what they think can only be said about them.
My political views? Maybe they were influenced by the books (works by Tolstoy, histories of anti-war and revolutionary movements) that I read in trying to make sense of what was going on, and just some things that I felt, heard, and saw.
I feel alone. It's very hard for me to realize that statements don't have a line you can be sure nothing bad will happen without stepping over it. You can live, though, haha. Scary, but possible. I guess.