Russian opposition journalist Natalia (53): She fled to the Czech Republic with her family. “They threatened me at home! he says

When asked why she came to Wenceslas Square, she answers without hesitation: “I don’t agree with the war and I don’t agree with Putin, I had an opposition newspaper in Russia and because they started threatening me, I had to go to the Czech Republic. I was against Putin from the beginning, when I learned how he came to power, it was clear to me that this is like a Trojan horse, as soon as he came to power, democracy in Russia ended.”

According to Natalie, Putin is a relatively ordinary person who only wanted power and recognition. He doesn’t mind fighting and likes to win, which is why, according to her, he is the ideal puppet of powerful oligarchs who use him to protect and expand their wealth.

Natalia was a member of the Russian opposition party “Jablko”, in her articles she devoted herself to corruption and fraud in local municipal politics. Her son and one other colleague helped her with this. People around her were skeptical of this work and called her naive. The prosecutor’s office also had comments on her articles, which tried to stop her activities. “They came up with all kinds of ridiculous reasons, like I have to give my full name in the articles and the like, but I had everything in order, so they couldn’t take me to court.” But that was far from the worst.

Threats from gangsters

“Once a Chechen caught me on the street, he pushed me into the car, where there was no handle on the inside, and started asking me questions about whether I was worried about my health, my children, why I was doing what I was doing, etc.. He had no uniform, she was a common thresher, a known criminal, he was their man for the dirty work, he even killed a few people. This was followed by phone calls in the middle of the night, he asked me, for example, if I could hear well,” he says. Natalia has three children and adopted one, when she realized that she and her loved ones were in danger, she decided to leave Russia. Unfortunately, Natalie’s parents had to stay in Russia due to poor health, her mother suffers from Parkinson’s disease and her father is fighting cancer.

When we asked Natalie if she believed there was a chance for the situation in Russia to turn for the better, her response was rather skeptical: “Everyone lives outside the law in Russia, and the degree to which you can live outside the law determines your social status. I believe that it can change, but only after a long time, Russia has to come to that”. She also spoke about the imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who is in prison for exposing corruption in Putin’s entourage. In her opinion, the way in which he wanted to activate Russian society was not quite the best, since corruption rather impresses a significant part of Russians. “Rather than anger, it inspires admiration in them. When they see in those videos that someone has a golden toilet, they say to themselves, I would like that too,” he explains.

How to talk to the opposite party

She also shared how she communicates with her ideological opponents: “When I talk to people who support Putin, I let them speak first, I let them talk, I let them scream. When they finish, I ask them for five minutes and I tell them my opinion. “I always say, you think the west is bad and bad, I live there and I don’t get my information from the media or politicians, but purely from what I see. And in my opinion, that life is much better than in Russia. Of course, then they consider me a traitor and will never admit that I could be right, but they know that I am involved in charity events, they know my reputation and it will stick in their heads.” Natalie knows very well that it is not possible to completely change their opinion, but she also knows very well that it is enough if they at least start thinking about it and maybe even shift their opinions a little.

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates) at the UN General Assembly (September 22, 2022)

Natalia and her family have settled in the Czech Republic and are extremely happy here: “I was choosing between the Czech Republic and Poland, it was essential for me that it was a Slavic country. But Poland was too religious for me, and the Czechia just cost us money. I have a granddaughter here now and my son is running in the Prague municipal elections, I believe it will be safer for him than for me in Russia.” She also worked as a journalist for some time with us, but after disagreements with the editors, because of her article about Marshal Koněv, she left this position.

Russian opposition journalist Natalia Skakun

Russian opposition journalist Natalia Skakun

Author: David Malík

The article is in Czech

Tags: Russian opposition journalist Natalia fled Czech Republic family threatened home

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