"The stickers on our apartments had an SS handwriting."

Vyacheslav Nikolaev interviewed the eyewitness.

Oksana Akmaeva at the February 24 rally
Photo: Alexander Melekhov

Oksana Akmaeva is 46 years old. She is a well-known person in Kaliningrad, a former journalist, until recently a manager in the field of culture, organizer of film festivals and music events in Kaliningrad region. On February 24, Oksana went to the central square of the city for a spontaneous anti-war rally. She was detained. Subsequently, a sticker "Traitor Lives Here" appeared on the door of her apartment. Fearing attacks by unknown assailants, Oksana and her son moved first from one apartment to another inside the city and then emigrated. The son now lives in Georgia, and Oksana Akmayeva received asylum in Germany a couple of weeks ago.

- When I listened to the president's landmark speech on the recognition of the DNR and LNR - this lecture on history about saving the brotherly peoples - I took it a bit "tangentially. So what, our "great historian", self-titled, makes all this noise! I took it this way: my grandfather didn't take his pills again.

My friends and I started saying to each other, "Well, he's not going to start a war, he's not an idiot. "He's not going to mobilize," "He's not going to declare martial law..." Now I realize that Russia has justified the worst predictions, and living in it now is like living on a powder keg.

When I opened the news on February 24 and realized that my country was bombing Kiev, I went into a stupor and daze. As if I was in front of a cobra or a wild bear. And then we started texting with friends. It took us a few phrases: "Coming?" - "Come." By evening we were already in the square.

An anti-war rally in Kaliningrad on February 24 brought together about 300 people. It was one of the most crowded among regional Russian cities - editor's note.

There was no rally as such. People were silent, holding hands, reading Gogol (something from Taras Bulba), poetry (something from the poets of the Sixties, like during the famous Mayakovskaya Square meetings in Moscow). What happened turned into literary readings, because people want to remain human in all situations.

Oksana Akmaeva at the February 24 rally
Photo: Alexander Melekhov

I don't know at what point we all started, figuratively speaking, "stepping over people lying on the asphalt. The crowd hugged each other, saying nice words to each other.

Then provocateurs started appearing in the crowd - faceless guys with short haircuts, usually with pointy-toed shoes and a daddy under their arm. They started shouting something very rude. They were kicked out and tried to calm them down, because we didn't come to chant slogans or to protest someone personally, but to say: "No to the war.

Many elderly people came to the rally on the 24th. For them, the word "war" has a clear and comprehensible wording, because they are either children of the war or children of those who fought. Although, on the other hand, that is why the word "Nazism" could so easily be screwed into the heads of most of our citizens with propaganda screwdrivers.

Gradually, a ring of police officers began to tighten around us. My friend and I went out for a smoke, and they were watching us. They took us away when we went to throw away our cigarette butts. They took us under our arms and put us in a van. The photographers came rushing in: my friend and I are quite media personalities in Kaliningrad.

They "tied" us up politely. They didn't let us get rough, like in St. Petersburg or Moscow. They gave us a hand to get in and out of the truck. Because today you beat someone with a truncheon, and tomorrow you will be drinking tea with this person's relatives.
Detention of Oksana Akmaeva on February 24
Video: Vitaly Nevar

After the rally I was not left alone. Yellow stickers appeared on the doors of the apartments of the four detainees at the rally, whose addresses had been "leaked" from the police: "A traitor lives here. These were typographically printed stickers. Because at that moment, due to sanctions, a lot of production stopped in Kaliningrad, and we ran out of film, stickers, and paper, we immediately realized who had done it. The worst thing is the stylistics: black lettering on a yellow background. You have to understand that in Königsberg, the Nazis organizedKristallnacht, when the apartments of Jews were marked with yellow stars, and by these marks, people were exterminated.

So our stickers had absolutely SS handwriting. My son met the people who put them on our doors in the entryway. Guys in black, wearing masks, chevrons on their sleeves and caps. The usual "mongrels" on the fringe of the E.S.U. This kind of dirty business usually involves hooligans, who do small jobs for the police, so as not to go to jail.
Photo from the personal archive of Oksana Akmaeva

The story went all over the country, and we became famous. It wasn't the fame we dreamed of, but friends started calling us from Europe and telling us about political asylum, because for the European mind, everything that had happened was a monstrous act of persecution. They said to us, "This is an attack on your life.

When people who are unintelligent and uneducated get power, they get a sense of omnipotence, which poisons the mind. We were told that the authors of the action against us got "kicked in the head," but it was already done. We had to change apartments.

I was most afraid for my son. He's young and wouldn't be able to figure out where the provocation was. I was just afraid that he would run into something. After all, nothing prevents them from approaching my son in a dark alley. That is why I asked my child not to walk late at night, and his friends would often walk him home.

At first I had no thoughts of leaving the country, but it was explained to me that I had every reason to live in a country where I would be guaranteed safety and not have to worry about myself and my son.

So my case for asylum in Germany was born. Faced with the situation, I realized that Germany is very sensitive to the process of issuing humanitarian visas. There is a clear rule here: if the state takes responsibility for a citizen, it must bear it with dignity, using all of its resources to make the person feel protected. 

Stade. The city where Oksana now lives
Photo from Oksana Akmaeva's personal archive

When you leave Russia, after a while you begin to perceive events from the outside. Like, it's there, and you're here. And this became alarming, because I am still a Russian, still from Kaliningrad. My mother is there, who, alas, is fed on television. She calls me and says, "I'm so afraid for you! How will you be there in Germany? It's cold there, they have no gas, empty shelves in the stores, there's nothing to eat." I no longer worry that my relatives have become cardboard characters, that the closest person has become part of the duped masses.

But what I hated for that was the propagandists.  I've never wished harm on anyone in my life. But I caught myself thinking that I really wanted to see the people responsible for brainwashing our loved ones hanging from the gallows in the wind. However, I blame myself for this feeling of hatred that they provoke in me - I was not so strong and could not resist this devilish evil. 

I don't like that I'm losing my human face, wishing them dead, and becoming like them. When that thought arises, I give myself a slap on the wrist every time. But, honestly, the picture of the gallows is still in my mind.

Stade. Photo from the personal archive of Oksana Akmaeva

This is another difficult period in my life, despite the fact that I am in a country where everything is for the people. Recently we went to Hamburg on a tour. We were traveling with a woman who is also here on a humanitarian visa. Suddenly they started talking about laws. The woman says: "And you should probably buy the Constitution of Germany". I think: but really, it is necessary, it is necessary to study the laws of Germany, because they work here. If it's written, it will be enforced.

When I arrived in Germany - my way was by train - a woman sat across from me, and I realized that she spoke Russian. It turned out she was from Kiev. We cried the entire way, holding hands. She had been living in Germany for several months. She came from the airport because she tried to go to her son in Kiev, but she couldn't. Her son turned her away at the passport control. He told her to come back because the shelling of Kiev had resumed.

When I went with her, I felt like I was going to confession, asking her forgiveness for what had happened. She was surprised that I went to rallies (she knew that it was forbidden in our country). I told her: "I believe that the victory will be yours.

We cried because we were two mothers, both with sons far away, and so we came together at one point, in Germany, which gave us refuge. And the reason for that, too, was common: the war. 

We didn't even get to know each other, we didn't exchange phone numbers. I don't know the name of this Ukrainian woman, and I'm glad that I remained for her not a specific person, but just a Russian.

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