"So he left and left." Activist from St. Petersburg Dmitry Chernysh in the "Eyewitnesses" project

Photo: from the "Well Gone and Gone" tv-channel, Piatnitsa source

Dmitry Chernysh is 33 years old. He was born in Nevinnomyssk. From the age of 10 he lived in St. Petersburg until he emigrated this summer. About why he - a colorist of car paints - is forced to apply for political asylum in European countries and how this process takes place, Dmitry tells in his tg-channel "Well I left and I left". He also shared his story with the "Eyewitnesses" project.

"Hello, everyone. My name is Dmitry Chernysh. I want to tell you a little bit about myself, about the events after which I left and where I went. In 2008, I was 19 years old, and by that time I had managed to get a profession as an electric and gas welder and a mechanic, having studied at a lyceum. I got a job as a cable installer in the company of home internet provider for a salary of 22500 ₽ on hand, which equaled $ 850 or 600 € at the rate of the time. By 2011, when I was 22 years old, I had already taken a couple of low-paying, hard jobs. And in the summer I was invited to take a short training course and get a job as an apprentice auto colorist. In 2013, when I was 24 years old, I earned up to 60,000₽ per month, which at the time the exchange rate was $ 2,000 or € 1,500. I made myself a passport and flew abroad on vacation...". (from the tg channel "Well I left and drove")

- Before the war I lived in St. Petersburg (23 years). I worked there as a colorist of car paints (for the last 12 years almost without a break). I rented a two-room apartment (more than 3 years). Lived well and peacefully. Went to the elections, voted against Putin and United Russia, and sometimes transferred money to the FBK. Since last year I started going to rallies, but I didn't come under the radar of the security forces, and I was never arrested or detained for that.

January 31, 2021. Photo: from tg channel "Well Gone and Gone"
"31.01.21. The anti-government protests that started after the arrest of Alexei Navalny are happening again in Russia. Before that I had only been doing my civic duty by going to elections where I voted against Putin and United Russia, but this year, when Navalny was arrested, it became clear to me that I was doing very little and that I needed to go out to protest. Before that, if I had ever been to a rally, it had been more like an occasional onlooker. Tens of thousands of people were simultaneously chanting "Putin is a thief!" The protest that began for the freedom of Navalny united all those who protested against Putin. On that day, 5,021 people were detained, 1,122 of them in St. Petersburg" (from the tg-channel "Well Gone and Done")

And since this year, with the start of the war, I didn't care about the stigma of being an oppositionist, which could ruin my life, as well as many things in general. I began to stand in solitary pickets against the war and for the release of political activists, for which I received three administrative detentions and one administrative arrest for 12 days.

Photo: SOTA
"04.03.22. I decided to go out to an anti-war protest. After work I arrived at the Gostiny Dvor metro station around 8 p.m., went up to town, but there was no rally there anymore, there were only police officers, journalists, and a few passers-by on the square. I decided to stand in a solitary picket. I squatted down to take a blank sheet of A4 paper and a pen out of my backpack, but this attracted too much attention, the police started to move, journalists were preparing their cameras, I realized that I wouldn't have time to write anything, I took out the blank sheet, closed my backpack, threw it behind my back and raised the blank sheet above my head, after a moment I was detained. Like a most dangerous criminal, several law enforcement officers were leading me to a truck, holding my hands firmly behind my back. I asked them if white paper was banned in our country, and they told me in response that if I said one more word they would break my ribs" (from the "Well Done and Done" tg-channel)

I quit my job when I was still serving my arrest because I was expecting the supply of materials from Germany to stop. And I didn't have the strength to argue with clients about politics anymore. At the end of June I went to Lithuania through Belarus and applied for political asylum, but in September I was sent by plane to Spain (because I had entered Lithuania with a Spanish visa), where I had to spend the night on the street, because Spain did not accept my asylum application.

Photo: from the personal archive of Dmitry Chernysh
"07.09.22. I pulled out my smartphone, opened the Google translator, wrote that I had arrived under the Dublin Regulation, that it was a paper from the police and that I was asking for political asylum. She went into the Google translator on her computer, turned the screen around so I could see it too, and wrote that I had to get in the electronic queue to apply, that I couldn't just show up and apply for asylum. I replied that this could not be, because I had arrived under the Dublin Regulation, and the policeman assured me that within three days the paper I had given her would entitle me to apply for asylum urgently. She printed out on the printer the instructions in the form of a screenshot from the website where I had to get in line to apply for asylum. She said that was all she could do to help me and said goodbye. I decided not to argue any further, especially since it's hard to argue when you don't know Spanish and have to type everything on your smartphone through Google Translator" (from the tg channel "Well Gone and Done")

With my last money I bought a ticket and flew to Berlin, applied for asylum here and now live in a migrant hostel. I share a room with an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, I am waiting for my asylum interview at BAMF. I am not allowed to work. In two weeks I start my language course.

Photo: from the personal archive of Dmitry Chernysh
"When my registration was finished, we went out into the hallway and the social worker showed me stands with information that might be useful to me... Then he showed me where the laundry room was. He explained that if I want to wash my clothes, first I have to come and get a term, and then at the appointed time to give my clothes to the laundry employee and pick up already washed and dried clothes, when he said so. The last room we went to was a small warehouse where the social worker asked me to take a big blue IKEA bag with all kinds of things that were supposed to be there for every new tenant when they moved in (blanket, pillow, bed linen, pan, etc.)" (from tg channel "Well Gone and Done")
Photo: from the tg channel "Well Gone and Gone"

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