'My family will be a target': Russian immigrants are afraid of Putin even in the USA - ForumDaily
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'My family will be a target': Russian immigrants fear Putin even in the US

Russian Americans who oppose the war in Ukraine are afraid to express their opinions publicly or even privately to family members at home, reports New York Post.

Photo: iStock.com/loranger

“I live in fear of endangering my family in Russia,” said an expatriate Russian engineer who does not support Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. — I don’t publish anything on social networks. I remain silent about my views so as not to harm my family. When we talk, we get by with the phrases “hello”, “how are you” and that’s it. You never know who's listening."

Ballerina arrest

Recently, Russians living in America had a new reason to fear Putin’s cruelty: it became known that the ballerina Ksenia Karelina was being held in custody for “treason.” She faces prison.

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32 year old girl арестовали, when she flew to her native Yekaterinburg from Los Angeles to see her elderly grandmother and divorced parents for the New Year.

Agents of Putin's Federal Security Service (FSB) - successors to the Soviet KGB - claimed that her "treason" was that she made a $51,80 donation to the New York-based charity Razom for Ukraine. This organization helps Ukraine. How the “proof” of the donation was discovered remains a mystery.

The State Department has admitted that it is virtually powerless to do anything (Russia does not recognize Karelina and other dual citizens' status as Americans). Her detention caused even more fear in the expat community.

“We are sad, scared and shocked,” said Lydia Kokolskaya, vice president of development at Razom for Ukraine. “Putin instilled a terrorist mindset in Russians inside and outside Russia.”

Kokolskaya noted that the nonprofit does not disclose information about its donors, and its donation information is protected by strict “security protocols and multiple firewalls.”

Fear of persecution

Many Russian Americans are too scared to speak to The Post, even on condition of anonymity, citing fears of a backlash from the Putin regime against their family members in Russia. They are afraid even of a telephone conversation with journalists.

“It’s very difficult,” said a Russian-born financial analyst who has lived in the United States for more than 20 years and did not want to be named. “Most of us don’t support Putin.”

The analyst has posted anti-war messages on social media in the past.

“I am afraid that my family will also become a target. Even here in America,” he admitted.

When a man tries to talk to his sister in Russia about the war, he says, “she just flies into a rage.”

“They are brainwashed into thinking that Ukraine is a country full of Nazis and that Putin is liberating Ukraine from fascism,” he explained.

Fighting your own people

Putin's brutal tactics against his own people have escalated sharply since his failed invasion of Ukraine in 2022. His security forces are now known to have detained 19 anti-war activists.

All these arrests occurred before the sudden death of opposition leader Alexei Navalnyo February 16, a death that President Biden and other world leaders have said was the work of Putin.

Over the past few days, security forces have detained more than 400 people in 39 cities across the country who took to the streets of Russia to honor Navalny. The politician’s brother, Oleg, has also been wanted on unspecified charges since 2022.

One of Navalny's allies, Anatoly Berezikov, a 40-year-old DJ and anti-war activist, died in custody in a Rostov-on-Don prison after being arrested last year for disobeying police.

Authorities said he committed suicide. His lawyer and human rights activist said he was likely tortured to death by prison guards.

Russians feel the fear of persecution in America doubly: there is both concern for their relatives and personal fear of Putin’s agents abroad.

“Anyone who protests against war anywhere in the world should also worry about their safety. They just killed a guy in Spain,” said Inna de Silva, a Ukrainian-born public relations specialist living in New Jersey.

This sacrifice became Maxim Kuzminov, a Russian pilot. He fled to Ukraine last year in a military helicopter he was piloting. His body was found in a garage in Villajoyosa near Alicante in southern Spain. He was shot six times and run over by a car.

“This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment when he was planning his dirty and terrible crime,” Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin openly gloated to the state news agency TASS.

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In Miami, Russian security forces tried to kill a double agent in 2020.

Kremlin officials pressured a Mexican scientist to track down and kill former Russian spy Alexander Poteyev. He worked for the CIA and betrayed a group of 10 fellow operatives when he fled to the United States.

Two years ago, the Kremlin added Moscow-born and Putin critic Masha Gessen, who lives in New York, to the Russian Interior Ministry's wanted list for spreading "false information" about human rights violations by Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory in the town of Bucha at the start of the war in 2022.

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