The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

Ignat's third funeral: the life and death of an illegal from Uzbekistan in New York

Just a few months ago, the body of a native of the city of Chirchik, Tashkent region, Ignat Smolsky, who died in New York back in September 2010, was delivered to the Brooklyn forensic department. In the spring of 2018, his body was exhumed, and until Ignat's mother Olga Vitalyevna raises money for the cremation of her son and the delivery of the urn to his homeland in Uzbekistan, it will remain in the refrigerator. And then there will be a funeral - the third in a row for Ignat in the last eight years, but the first, at which he will finally be mourned. The next phrase will sound ridiculous, but this is absolutely true - Ignat's relatives are very lucky, because they have something to bury. The rarest case in the history of New York when it comes to a lonely and unnecessary illegal immigrant.

Ignat Smolsky. Photos from the personal archive

The story of Ignat Smolsky is one of those that literally fell upon me in 2017. It was then that I began to look for immigrants from the former USSR who went missing in the United States, it was then that I found many and very quickly realized - if I knew from the beginning what burden I was taking on myself, I would never have undertaken in my life. After all, I became not just a journalist who conducted an investigation and found out how, where and why hundreds of immigrants from the former USSR disappeared in the USA, I not only made a documentary about this, but also turned into a herald of death in combination ... It was me who had to call, write and communicate with the family and friends of those who died in the United States. I looked for them in a variety of ways - through social networks, through familiar editors of the "Wait for Me" program, just through all kinds of telephone bases ...

I found Ignat's mother - Olga Vitalievna Panina - on the Odnoklassniki website. She became the first on my list of mothers to whom I had to inform that her only son has not written to her for seven years from the USA, not because he is busy, or not because he does not want to, but because he is not alive. I still remember my message to her about it. I also remember her optimistic answers - Olga did not believe me for a whole year, with this feeling she flew to New York, with the same feeling we went with her to identify where she came from, sobbing and unable to talk. We were sitting together with her in a beautiful room, I hugged her and more than anything else at that moment I wanted only one thing - to rewind time and not write that very first message to her. Let him just disappear, but with the hope that he is alive. But Olga suddenly stopped crying, looked at me carefully and said: “Thank you, if not for you, I probably would have gone crazy. Thanks for finding it for me. ”

Did the mother of your only son ever thank you for telling her that he was dead? I am now yes ... I don’t know if experience is worse than this one when it comes to peace journalism, journalism outside of war.

For a better life

Today, Ignat Smolsky’s whole life can be defined with just a few dates:

Born in 1980 year.

In 2001, flew to the USA.

In 2010, he died in New York in an accident.

He was buried in a mass grave for unclaimed in 2012 year.

Reburied in a mass grave for unclaimed in 2014 year.

Will be buried in Chirchik in 2018 year.

On this, perhaps, everything. With Ignat, the Smolskys' line ended. His parents have no more children. But once this family was very happy. Everyone was jealous of them - a beautiful mother, a sensible father and a son - a successful athlete and handsome. And then everything went downhill. First, the marriage of Olga and Vadim fell apart. The scandalous divorce left no chance for communication after. And then Olga decided that Ignat should definitely leave them to live in the USA. And nothing remained of the family at all.

- Ignat studied in Tashkent at RUOR (Republican School of the Olympic Reserve). He had a very strong coach - Sheriff-aka, who considered my son not just a talented, but a brilliant athlete, he loved him very much, - says my mother. - Ignat passed the standards of the master of sports in a short time and in training he was already lifting the weight of the international. And then he took first place in Uzbekistan in his weight category and received a referral to the World Junior Championships in New York, and with him two more boys, Olga tells me. - Money was allocated for our boys, but at the last moment the sports committee of Uzbekistan did not give it to them, said that there were some problems with the bank. By that time, the guys had already received American visas ... And they decided to go later, on their own, to seek their fortune in foreign lands. So I'm sure that if they had been given that money for the competition then, then all three would have had a completely different fate ... After all, they were promised heavenly conditions, the main of which was legal status in the USA, they say, after participating in such competitions, you can stay it is legal to train in the country. And they promised money for the first time, and pay for tickets, etc. As a result, two other boys literally on the eve of the trip got scared and stayed at home. And I told my son - fly! I literally pushed him to the USA. And he was not scared and flew away. But then he was only 21 years old, a child ...

Ignat chose New York because acquaintances from Chirchik lived there, with some of them he was friends for a very long time - they went in for sports together. First I decided to stay in the country for six months. At first, everyone was expecting that the sports committee of Uzbekistan would transfer the promised money and help get a visa with which you can work in the country. But I waited in vain. Nobody was going to help him.

He called mom constantly. I knew that she was alone, her father, after a divorce, goes into binges and does not communicate with his former family at all. Sometimes he sent small sums of money, although he himself was far from glamorous. And Olga tried not to burden her son with her problems - as before, she worked as a teacher at a local art school, taught children to play the piano, and hoped that she would once again hug her son. She had hoped in vain.

Waiting for you

He lived in the United States for nine years. And he was almost happy all this time. “Almost” because he could not legalize in any way, America for him was like that elbow - here it is, and not to grab, not to grab ... Ignat was angry, worried, nervous and could not change anything.

- You know, he liked to act on display, somehow deliberately, hasty or something, - says Ignat's friend, Denis B. - No, it's not that he climbed to fight with someone, he just could walk along the street like, say, with an aggressive gait, in an unbuttoned shirt on a pumped-up body and with an expression on his face, they say, what will you do to me? And all because one, no one, no one needs, mother is there ... Yes, there are friends, but you all have families, work, we live here stably, and he? And he is nobody. He was lost.

Denis was one of those who sounded the alarm when Ignat disappeared. But he could not do much - at this time he lived with his family in Florida. The former policeman himself searched as best he could through former colleagues. And then he resigned himself. Seven years have passed since Ignat disappeared and I called him. Denis clarified for a long time, did not believe, because he himself was looking and did not find, but Ignat was very close - and died not far from the place where he lived, and then lay in the Brooklyn morgue for two more years unclaimed.

Ignat and Denis. Photos from the personal archive

Not only Denis, all Ignat’s friends and acquaintances were amazed by the news of his death.

- Well, if he didn't write or call, he left everything at home, documents too, well, where else could he be, except in the cemetery? - I asked over and over again his astonished friends.

- In prison! - they answered me. - He was already there.

Ignat was not a criminal, but he did spend several months in an illegal immigration prison in Texas. He was arrested with dozens of others at a factory in New York State. Ignat stayed in prison longer than others - he was sent to solitary confinement several times for fights and defended himself.

America did not accept Ignat in its arms; rather, on the contrary, it pushed him away. He was released from a Texas prison with an order to leave the country in 48 hours, but he did not. Who knows, maybe he would have left then, would have remained alive?

- Marina, he might be glad to leave, but after all, he had to return to Uzbekistan, where he could be imprisoned for living in the United States illegally! - Olya told me when we discussed how Ignat got to prison, and I was amazed aloud:

- For what to plant?

- For treason! Here's why. Why are you surprised, you live in a different reality, and you never lived with us here ... After all, when I realized that he was gone, I went to our MID. There, in the lobby, some officer asked me why I had come. I explained, and he told me as if in secret that filing documents for the search was not just not necessary, but even dangerous. Because if he lived in another country illegally and after that he was found and returned, then in Uzbekistan he will be in big trouble, right up to the article about treason ... And in general, they say, it’s expensive to look for a long time, there are no guarantees and who will do it ?

I really never lived in Uzbekistan, and I do not know the features, laws and orders of this country. But I know that Olga, realizing that her son was missing, did everything she could. And what could an middle-aged woman do if she lost her health due to constant thoughts about her son, who literally earned a penny and from which 90-year-old mom was dependent? She left four applications on the website of the “Wait for me” program, constantly called her son’s friends, pulled them, asked them to search, and then, in despair, went to clairvoyants, whom she eventually believed.

It took me a lot of work to break through the "truth" that the "clairvoyants" told the poor mother to. I am especially “grateful” to a certain Miassar from Tashkent. Both she and others simply pulled money from a beggar music teacher who wanted only one thing - to find out what happened to her son.

First, Miassar told Olga that Ignat in Mexico, somewhere in 50-60 kilometers from the capital, he is in the village, without communication, wounded, unable to walk. The seer spoke with a confident voice, and Olya believed, believed and believed, and therefore drove her the last, just to find out the “news” about her son. And when I wrote to her, she first rushed to the very fortuneteller.

“I visited the clairvoyant Miassar yesterday in Tashkent. I got there with difficulty, because people have been waiting in line for her since four in the morning. She said that Ignat was alive. That she considered the situation more deeply, saw that he had previously traveled to Mexico and was thinking about the option to get out of the United States through Mexico. But then he returned to New York and there he was attacked for money. Some imaginary friends are mixed up. Ignat is now in one of some closed clinics in New York, and I can find him there when I get there. She said that he was bedridden, had been shot in the head and had amnesia. She described a very difficult picture, but said that she needed to be seriously treated and then there would certainly be some improvement. Then she said that the guy who was found dead was Ignat's friend and he had Ignat's documents with him, and most likely he was hit by a car. They are the same age as Ignat, outwardly very similar, and worked together, ”she wrote to me in“ Odnoklassniki ”after her return.

I got lost. Ignat was not identified by documents, they were not with him at the time of death. He was identified by his fingerprints, which, of course, you cannot lend to another person ... I got angry and painfully chose my words, typing another message for Olya. For some reason, I really wanted that, despite the statistics, according to which 99% of illegal immigrants in New York after death are buried in mass graves without notifying relatives and friends, she still came here and took his body, albeit in the form of ashes. I don't know why I needed it. Either an innate sense of justice, or because I decided that this story, if brought to the end, or rather, to the funeral and complaints about the situation to the appropriate authority, could change the attitude of the authorities to this problem. After all, they do not look properly for relatives of foreign citizens. And don't tell me "Nobody asked them to become illegal here!" After all, they often do not look for relatives even for those single who lived in the United States legally. Here they are namesakes on social networks, here it is the base of the program "Wait for me", here they are the Russian-language media and here they are the Russian-speaking police officers, employees of the forensic medical examination bureau, the FBI (by the way, the Ignat case was transferred from the police to this department, for the reason that I have so far I don't know, but I'm about to find out). But they are not looking. Although in some cases this search takes a couple of minutes. And according to the law, it must be implemented. They are not looking. Not looking ... Not looking !!! It is believed that these relatives should look for the one who disappeared. And they are given two weeks for this, after which the body becomes the property of the city. And there, either medical students, or immediately a mass grave - there are not so many options.

Record of the death of 29-year-old Ignatius

“Thank you,” a beautiful Russian-speaking doctor said to me when she brought Olga, swollen with tears, out after identification. “Without you and your job, it would be difficult for us to find his mother.

I just chuckled. What does “difficult” mean if you weren't looking for anyone? I leaf through Ignat's personal file - it contains all the information since the discovery of his body. There is a good phrase that I borrowed from friends-actors, which perfectly describes this weighty pile of papers - the work has been done a lot, difficult, but in vain.

Ignat's body was endlessly taken from morgue to morgue, thus trying to understand who it was. The absurdity of some actions is striking. So, during one of the procedures, a part of the collarbones and ribs was removed from him in order to establish by them how old the body is. After some time, his body was taken for x-rays to find old fractures. They also took DNA from him. At the same time, immediately after the body was found, his fingerprints were taken. As a result, the data that the corpse, presumably 25-35 years old, came a couple of days before the information that the person was identified by fingerprints. Why was all this expensive fuss necessary? Why DNA testing? Ignat's face is recognizable from the photograph, there was no need for him, as well as to conduct research on his bones to establish his age, which, by the way, did not give anything - Ignat died two weeks before his 30th birthday. His identity was established, it was included in his personal file and nothing else. And to notify the family? Why all these expensive procedures, if in the end he was buried as a rootless in a mass grave?

Further more. Information about Ignat someone clearly involved in the investigation submitted for discussion on the site Websleuths. This site was created by ordinary Americans to help the police investigate and even identify bodies for which no one came. Today it has almost one hundred thirty thousand members, some of them are active police officers, and also private detectives, forensic scientists and many others. On the page devoted to Ignat, they discuss the details of his business, call his name, and, moreover, discuss that they are looking for him on the website “Wait for me”. And none of those who expressed their opinion there sent a short note to the same program “Wait for me” to inform Olya that Ignat is dead. No, instead, participants put forward theories and talk about nonsense. However, many of them have access to closed photos of the site. NamUs, where you can find information about the missing and found throughout the United States, that is, are professionals in their field.

Two years after his death, Ignat's body served as the same textbook for medical students. Such bodies in New York are worth their weight in gold - young, healthy, organs not damaged by alcohol or drugs. After two years as a teaching aid, he was finally buried. Then they were exhumed in order to carry out strange and unnecessary procedures again, and then they were buried again. And then they exhumed again, but only because I came to the forensic medical examination bureau. It happened a year ago. I said that my mother was looking for Ignat Smolsky, I gave her phones, and at the same time copies of Ignat's birth certificate and his mother's passport to prove that we were not crooks. They immediately called Olga. They expressed their condolences, which Olya accepted very restrainedly - for her, he was still alive. She then told them that if it was him, then she would do everything to take him and bury him. At the same time, Olga did not name a specific date of arrival, because then she did not even have an American visa.

In fact, the second exhumation is a kind of miracle and incredible luck. After all, the forensic medical examination bureau independently took up this, without waiting for Olga's arrival and not even knowing whether they would give her a visa or not. So that you understand how difficult it is, a small digression. At the end of 2017, on the ForumDaily website, my the story of Vladimir Kondratenko, a native of Gomel, who was looking for four years. He was legal, died in April 2003, near a supermarket on Brighton Beach. His relatives have been waiting for news from him for fifteen years. Nobody notified them either. So, the process of exhumation and the subsequent dispatch of an urn in Gomel from Volodya's family took almost a year. First, the documents were incorrectly drawn up, then some other difficulties arose, then another ... At some point, Oksana, Vladimir's cousin, wrote to me with despair that she no longer believed that they would receive his body. I asked for patience, because I understood that this is not the easiest process, and it takes a lot of time. Imagine now my amazement, when a couple of weeks ago I dialed the bureau number to inform them that Olga had flown in and is ready to identify her son, and heard: “His body is already with us, if she recognizes him, he can agree on cremation, even though same day. ” Not hiding surprise, I clarified, they say, and if she can not pick it up now?

“Everything is fine,” Aden, the employee with whom I spoke all this time, answered me. - He can lie with us as long as necessary. We've already done everything, she just needs to prepare for the funeral.

At that moment I did not feel a feeling of gratitude - it was this system that ignored the need to inform Ignat's relatives that he was dead, it was “thanks” to them that he was buried as “unclaimed”. Now they only tried to correct the mistake that they themselves made earlier.

For the sake of justice in recent years, the news is still better. A relatively good site works where you can find information about found, but unclaimed or unidentified bodies throughout the United States. But it is today. And I'm still trying to help the relatives of those who died in the same New York some five or seven years ago. And while I was drowning in the ocean of grief and tears, the relatives of those who disappeared for their own without a trace, just because he died and was buried without warning as unnecessary to no one. There are so many that sometimes give up.

Ignat. Photos from the personal archive

Native, beloved and unclaimed

How did it happen that Ignat was buried as unclaimed, even after his employer Vladimir and friend Denis turned to the police about his disappearance? The thing is that in the police base Ignat passed under the surnames Vadimov and Vadimovich, the latter in fact was his patronymic. And here again it is impossible not to be indignant - here it is a personal matter, where next to Ignat's surname, his name and patronymic there are notes - what is what. And here it is, the police report, which I received in the police department closest to the place where Ignat's body was found. There I introduced myself as Ignat's cousin, which is probably not entirely correct, said that I was looking for some additional information for my mother, which was just the pure truth and asked for help. The sweetest employee searched for Ignat by the name of Smolsky for a long time and found nothing.

“On this date there is only one corpse that fits yours, but under the name Vadimovich,” she finally told me. And I confirmed it was him. Then the employee printed me a report on the discovery of the body, then took me out onto the porch and handed me over there, saying that she had never given me anything, and this was for my beautiful eyes. So I got a paper about the discovery of the body of Ignat, who was first recorded as “unknown”. There was information in it that he was accidentally discovered by a Mexican passer-by who went into the bushes because he really wanted to go to the toilet ...

Ignat was lying with his eyes open on his back, on his face there were some dark spots. This, by the way, was what Olya later resisted on when she came to herself after the identification - like he, but not like him, you can't understand, because the face is blue ... The forensic experts took her saliva for DNA analysis without further ado be sure to bury your child. There is still no result, but his body can already be taken away - they took the saliva only so that Olga would not doubt even one percent - this is him. When, after all this horror, we left the morgue and into the street, bathed in bright sunlight, she, after a pause, said:

- So I was left alone ... And all these clairvoyants and all these fortune tellers lied to me ... They saw that I was in despair, and pulled money. There is nothing to pull from me, Marina, I am a poor, sick woman. Since Ignat disappeared, I haven't slept a single night properly - I couldn't. I listened to them all and then thought, thought and thought that I could not help my child. And they pulled, pulled and pulled, how? How can that be? Even after a whole year of communication with you, I believed that my boy was alive and that we would definitely build a big house with him, because he had learned so much to do as a builder. Every day I talked with his photograph, every day I told him all my events, conferred with him and hugged him ...

I had nothing to say to her. To fly to New York, Olya got into incredible debts that she still does not know how she will give. Now she needs to find money somewhere to cremate Ignat and take him home, because there is no one else to do this, again she wanted to do a DNA analysis.

At the same time, despite all this horror that she is going through now, she is incredibly lucky, if, of course, it is appropriate to use this word here. But that's the way it is. Firstly, Ignat was not buried as unidentified, he was nevertheless given a name, albeit with a mistake. Secondly, he has already been exhumed and Olga and I will not have to go through this long and difficult process. Thirdly, Olya was given a visa to the United States, but they could not have given it, which happened to the sister of one of the other missing persons, Madina R. For some reason, I cannot disclose her brother's name yet. A young handsome guy lived in New York for nothing, then won a hundred thousand dollars in the lottery, and after a short time disappeared without a trace. The last time he contacted his family was in mid-April 2007, and since then they have not heard anything about him again. I went on his trail last summer and immediately contacted my family. And they, after listening to me, immediately rushed to the American Embassy in Tashkent for a visa and were immediately refused - they did not believe them. Then I literally bombarded the embassy with letters with evidence that the story about the found brother was true, and Madina went to get a visa again, and heard from the officer: “And if he is dead, then what next? Exhumation is expensive, you don’t have that much money! ” And she was refused a second time ... At the same time, Olga, who was telling a similar story at the same time and literally in the next window, was issued a visa immediately and without any problems.

The officer who refused Madina is completely unaware of the situation. Indeed, exhumation is not a cheap process, but if we are talking about a person who was buried as unclaimed or unidentified, then it is carried out free of charge for relatives, at the expense of the city budget. By the way, when I arrived with Olya to identify Ignat, I once again reminded the forensic experts that Madina could not come because she was not given a visa and once again asked them for help, namely: to confirm that the whole story was true, that the process is free and that it is only possible to remove the remains from the grave for a certain number of years, and time goes by, which reduces the chances of reburial ...

- We're trying! But until it works, they do not make contact, - they answered me, and I swore to myself. Getting in touch with the US Embassy in Tashkent is not just easy, but very easy. There are publicly available phone numbers, e-mail, and pages on social networks ... They answered my letters almost immediately. It seems to me that this does not characterize the bureau in the most flattering way and answers some questions ...

Olya, by the way, wanted to get a visa even when Ignat was alive. She understood that she was unlikely to be given her, because her son stayed in the country illegally, and therefore she began to look for someone from whom she could enlist help. And she almost succeeded.

- I told Ignat that I want to move to live in the USA. We made plans with him that I could get married there, I could open my own music school or a school for children with disabilities, where they would learn music, different types of art, go in for sports, ”Olya told me. - Then I realized that it was not so easy, but Ignat put pressure on me - get a visa, get a visa. And I thought - to hell with the fact that I was not destined to live there, even if I go and see my son! And through acquaintances I got in touch with Mark Weil, a famous theater director and artistic director of the Ilkhom theater. At that time he was already working on stage in the United States and I hoped to leave as a member of his troupe. And he said - yes, I will try to help you get a visa, please call me at the theater on Friday morning. And I called the theater on Friday at ten in the morning. I remember well how I introduced myself and said that Mark Yakovlevich was waiting for my call and heard on the other end of the line: “But he cannot answer you ... he died ...”. This was my only attempt to get a visa during Ignat's lifetime. I didn’t try anymore, I understood that the salary was small, my son was illegal there - I wouldn’t have been given it ... But it was easy given now ...

Ignat. Photos from the personal archive

Remembering crying

Olga Vitalievna Panina is now in New York, she lives with random acquaintances. Together with her, we are trying to find funds for Ignat's cremation. His closest friends can help to a minimum - everyone has their own problems, their own lives, and this is understandable. Although there is good news, again, if this phrase is appropriate in this case, for the first time in eight years Olga was able to fall asleep. It also turned out that the mother of one of Ignat's friends kept his icon and a cross - these are the only things that remained after him in New York. Everything else disappeared without a trace.

Olya resigned to the fact that her son is no more. And although the DNA result is not ready yet, now she mentally says goodbye to him every day, and does not wait for a meeting.

- The last time we phoned in August 2010. I went to Russia, to Pereslavl, then my dad was still alive and he and my mother lived there. And for a long time I did not get in touch with my son. Finally we phoned, Ignat said that he had sent me three hundred dollars - one hundred to my grandparents, and two hundred for my journey. My caring boy ... And he told how he filled out the documents for sending money, and he always sent them on behalf of his friend Denis, he was afraid that since he was illegal, he could not from his own. He handed the papers to the girl operator, and she began to look at him and smile and he decided that she liked it. And already when I had to leave, I saw that instead of “Denis” I had written “Penis”. We laughed so hard with him on the phone ... That's how much I cry now, remembering this particular incident ...

There is a tiny fragment in my film - Ignat stands near the Hilton Hotel near Times Square, and then gradually disappears. The place is the same, there are also cars and people rushing there, but he is not there, he just disappeared. Almost like in the video - disappeared without a trace ... I walked there. Then she visited the place where his body was found. And I also visited the cemetery, where he and other unnecessary or unclaimed ones were buried - this is a completely different story, which I will definitely share later. She, like this one, is sad. She, like this, will be written in order to change something.

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