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2022.06.11 逃往立陶宛

发表于 2022-6-12 00:14:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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With her PlayStation and her pet rat: how one member of Pussy Riot fled Russia
Lusya Shtein describes her daring escape to Lithuania

Jun 1st 2022


By Francesca Ebel

On the last day of March, Lusya Shtein rose early. On most days she wears a hoodie and loose-fitting trousers when running errands or meeting friends. That morning she put on the lime-green uniform of Delivery Club, a company that couriers food around Moscow. The outfit, ordered online, had come with the company’s delivery bag, along with a beanie and a face mask. Dressed head-to-toe in neon green, she smirked at herself in her bedroom mirror and took a selfie.

This was not the first time that Shtein had disguised herself to dodge the police. An activist and critic of President Vladimir Putin, she had been under some form of house arrest for over a year. The 25-year-old had to wear an electronic ankle tag and a gps tracker that monitored her location, and was barred from leaving the house after 10pm. Police officers watched the entrance to her building. But she had noticed on a couple of occasions that the officers did not respond when she forgot to take the gps tracker with her when she went out. She could leave it behind without detection. On occasion she would walk to her girlfriend’s flat in a big coat, hat and glasses.

Shtein had thought she could withstand the increasingly harsh repression that Russian authorities meted out to its critics. She had been arrested and jailed briefly several times, and was sentenced to house arrest last year in the wake of a massive anti-government demonstration. She still hoped to continue protesting within the shrinking space available for activism under Putin. But when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, Shtein couldn’t stomach it any longer.

She put her phone, passport and wallet into the food-delivery bag, slipped her pet rat into one of its pockets and closed the door

“I couldn’t bear the thought of continuing to live in the invaders’ country, or of living in Moscow just a few kilometres from the Kremlin, among people who support the war,” she says. “I realised that there was nothing left to wait for in Russia.”

Taking a last look at the apartment that she’d lived in for 18 months, she put her phone, passport and wallet into the courier’s satchel, slipped her pet rat into one of its pockets and closed the door behind her.

Putin has suppressed his critics since his early years in power. For a long time the crackdowns came in waves. Sometimes specific groups or opposition figures would be pressurised. But for the most part, civic life in Russia persisted, even progressed. Independent media outlets emerged, as did support networks for activists. In the past few years, however, the Kremlin has intensified its war on entities it regards as “foreign agents”, restricting the work of many such organisations, activists and journalists.

During that time, Shtein was able to carve out a small role for herself as a local-government representative and a feminist activist. Born into a middle-class, liberal family in Moscow, she gave little thought to politics in her youth – she briefly tried modelling, then journalism. Then, in 2015, when Shtein was 18, Boris Nemtsov, one of Russia’s most prominent opposition figures, was shot four times in the back while walking on a bridge near the Kremlin. “His murder shocked me. It showed that the supposedly impossible – to kill an opposition politician in central Moscow – was possible,” she says. “Everything changed.” Shtein fell in with a circle of young liberals, artists, independent journalists and human-rights activists. She began to join their demonstrations and electoral campaigns.

In 2017, when she was helping out with a local election campaign, someone suggested that she run for office herself as a deputy on a Moscow municipal council. At the age of 21 and with barely any experience, she won a seat representing Moscow’s hip Basmanny district. “In Russia, you often hear people saying that opposition figures only go out and protest, without offering anything concrete,” Shtein says. “So we decided to actually try and do something real.”

In reality, the role gave her little authority. But Shtein found other ways to make a mark, joining the ranks of young, often female Russian activists who harnessed their platforms on social media to draw attention to political issues – one of the few tools of subversion at their disposal. In 2020 Shtein joined Pussy Riot, a feminist performance-art collective and punk band, and began to participate in its events, which doubled as protests. She started dating Masha Alekhina, the group’s veteran activist, who had received a two-year jail sentence for “hooliganism” in 2012 after an obscenity-laden performance directed at Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

In recent years, ahead of a planned protest or performance, police would wait outside the homes of Shtein and her fellow activists. The threat of arrest was implicit. Shtein says her situation was better than that of some of her comrades because she knew she wasn’t putting her family in danger: her father died when she was ten and her mother lives abroad. And her punishments tended to be light – a fine or a short stay in jail, at worst.

“I couldn’t bear to live in the invaders’ country. I realised that there was nothing left to wait for in Russia”

The political environment became far more oppressive after the imprisonment in January 2021 of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure. Navalny had survived an attempt to poison him with a deadly nerve agent in August 2020, but was put on trial as soon as he returned from treatment in Germany to Moscow, prompting large anti-government demonstrations. Thousands of people were arrested, including Shtein, who was eventually charged with inciting others to break covid-safety rules. She was sitting in an unheated cell on a freezing-cold evening in an infamous prison once used by the kgb, when she heard on the radio a judge sentence Navalny to nearly three years in a brutal penal colony. Since then, the government has obliterated the vast activist network that Navalny had established across Russia.

At 5am on February 24th, Shtein woke up to a flood of notifications on her phone: Putin had just invaded Ukraine. Alekhina, a preternaturally deep sleeper, barely stirred. Shtein endured the first shockwaves of despair and disgust alone. “Living in Russia is very emotionally difficult. You get used to the fact that everyday there is some new, terrible, trash development,” she says. “If you follow events constantly you start to lose it. I learnt to distance myself from the news cycle. But in the case of Ukraine, that immunity fell away.”

In the early weeks of the war she was glued to her phone, following the coverage from dawn until dusk. She thought often about the story of a make-up artist killed by Russian forces in Bucha, near Kyiv, and the image of the dead woman’s greying hand, with her red and white acrylic nails still bright. “You understand that behind every person who is killed, is a full life and an individual story,” she says.

She was also furious with Western governments. “Our activists and opposition politicians told the West for a long time that Putin is a fascist and that they should bring sanctions against him,” she says. “They didn’t listen.”

Shtein quickly understood that the invasion would deal a mortal blow to the last vestiges of free expression in Russia. In early March a new law established a 15-year jail sentence for “spreading fake news about the actions of the Russian armed forces”. A longer, harsher stint in prison was now a real possibility. Under the terms of her house arrest, Shtein was barred from leaving Moscow. She had some difficult choices to make: would she be able to leave for a short period, wait for things to calm down, and return? How many more months or years in prison would she get if she did so? She eventually accepted that if she left, she would not be able to return to Russia while Putin remained in power.

“You understand that behind every person who is killed, is a full life and an individual story”

Friends and activists helped her sketch out an escape plan. Many airlines had stopped flying to Russia, and several neighbouring countries had closed their borders. If she went to the airport, she knew she’d be arrested on the spot. She concluded that the fastest way to leave Russian soil before the authorities noticed was to drive through Belarus to Lithuania. (Shtein asked 1843 magazine not to publish the specific details of her route, so other Russians can continue to use it.)

A few days before she left, Shtein packed a suitcase of belongings for a friend to collect from her flat. In it she put her Sony PlayStation, some mementoes and several books, including Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”.

The morning of March 31st was brisk, perfect for wearing a courier jacket. From the balcony of her apartment, Shtein could monitor the police officers’ movements below. When the street was clear, she set off. Once she was out of her neighbourhood, Shtein was picked up by a driver who took her to the Belarusian border, where a second driver drove her to the crossing with Lithuania. The journey took around ten hours. Despite the high stakes, Shtein says there was only one moment of tension: two hours after she’d left, Shtein’s case officer turned up unannounced at the apartment to find Alekhina alone and Shtein’s gps tracker lying in full view on the kitchen table. Alekhina came up with some excuses to buy her girlfriend some time.

Shtein is one of hundreds of thousands of Russians who have left the country since the invasion. After she arrived in Lithuania, she posted on Twitter a video of herself in a hoodie cutting off her ankle tag with scissors. “Parting is a small death, but I am forced to prematurely break off relations with the Russian Federation,” she tweeted. She had worn the symbol of state repression every day for a year – and decorated the tag with stickers and anti-police symbols. Nevertheless, severing the tie felt strange.

Amonth later, Shtein’s girlfriend Alekhina staged a similar escape, wearing the exact same outfit (Shtein had taken it off when she switched cars and handed it to a friend.) The pair were reunited in Vilnius in late April. On May 16th the Russian authorities put Shtein on a wanted list. She responded by uploading a picture of a breakfast tray on Twitter with a note on it that read, “Hooray! You are wanted!”

What did it feel like to leave Russia, I ask Shtein by telephone? “Well…I am always happy when I fuck over the cops,” she says with a laugh, characteristically deflecting with humour. Then, she relents. “In that moment I felt it was no longer my country,” she says. “If your country is your friends, most of my friends had already fled or were planning to. If it’s your parents, then my parents had left Russia long ago. If it’s common values and shared vision with the government, then I never had this anyway.”

Now she is concentrating on the future, looking for ways to help from outside Russia: “All of a sudden those familiar streets and buildings where I had many important, precious memories, just turned into a place where I could get arrested. Somewhere I would live in prison.”■

Francesca Ebel is a journalist covering the war in Ukraine. Lusya Shtein was featured in The Economist’s broadcast documentary “Fearless: The Women Fighting Putin”, winner of a bafta tv award in May. You can read the rest of 1843 magazine’s coverage of the war in Ukraine, here


带着她的PlayStation和她的宠物鼠:Pussy Riot的一名成员如何逃离俄罗斯
Lusya Shtein描述了她大胆地逃往立陶宛的过程



三月的最后一天,Lusya Shtein起得很早。在大多数日子里,她在跑腿或见朋友时都穿着连帽衫和宽松的长裤。那天早上,她穿上了送货俱乐部的石灰绿色制服,这是一家在莫斯科周围运送食品的公司。这套衣服是在网上订购的,与该公司的快递袋一起,还有一顶小帽和一个面罩。从头到脚都穿着霓虹绿色的衣服,她对着卧室的镜子傻笑,并拍了一张自拍照。






普京自执政初期就一直压制着他的批评者。在很长一段时间里,镇压行动一波接一波。有时特定的团体或反对派人物会受到压力。但在大多数情况下,俄罗斯的公民生活仍在持续,甚至有所进步。独立的媒体机构出现了,活动家的支持网络也出现了。然而,在过去几年中,克里姆林宫加强了对其认为是 "外国代理人 "的实体的战争,限制了许多此类组织、活动家和记者的工作。

在此期间,施泰因能够作为地方政府代表和女权主义活动家为自己开辟一个小角色。她出生在莫斯科一个中产阶级的自由主义家庭,年轻时很少考虑政治问题--她曾短暂地尝试过做模特,然后是新闻工作。然后,在2015年,当施泰因18岁时,俄罗斯最杰出的反对派人物之一鲍里斯-涅姆佐夫在克里姆林宫附近的一座桥上行走时,背部中了四枪。"他的谋杀令我震惊。它表明,所谓的不可能--在莫斯科市中心杀死一名反对派政治家--是可能的。"她说。"一切都改变了。" Shtein陷入了一个由年轻的自由主义者、艺术家、独立记者和人权活动家组成的圈子。她开始加入他们的示威活动和选举活动。


在现实中,这个角色给她的权力很小。但施泰因找到了其他方式来做出成绩,加入了年轻的、通常是女性的俄罗斯活动家的行列,他们利用自己在社交媒体上的平台来吸引对政治问题的关注--这是他们所掌握的少数颠覆工具之一。2020年,施泰因加入了女权主义行为艺术团体和朋克乐队Pussy Riot,并开始参与其活动,这些活动也是抗议活动。她开始与该团体的资深活动家玛莎-阿列克西娜(Masha Alekhina)约会,后者在2012年因在莫斯科大教堂进行针对普京的充满淫秽的表演而因 "流氓行为 "被判处两年监禁。







施泰因很快就明白,入侵将对俄罗斯最后的自由表达残余造成致命打击。3月初,一项新法律规定,"传播有关俄罗斯武装部队行动的假新闻 "将被判处15年监禁。现在,更长、更严厉的监狱生活是一种现实的可能性。根据她的软禁条款,Shtein被禁止离开莫斯科。她要做出一些艰难的选择:她是否能够短期离开,等待事情平静下来,然后再回来?如果她这样做,她会在监狱里多呆几个月或几年?她最终接受了这样的事实:如果她离开,在普京继续执政期间,她将无法回到俄罗斯。






一个月后,施泰因的女友阿列克娜上演了一场类似的逃亡,她穿着一模一样的衣服(施泰因在换车时脱下了衣服,并把它交给了一个朋友)。 这对夫妇于4月底在维尔纽斯团聚。5月16日,俄罗斯当局将施泰因列入通缉名单。她的回应是在推特上上传了一张早餐盘的照片,上面写着:"万岁!你被通缉了!你被通缉了!"




照片:Piotr Malecki / Panos
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