Russia: Alexandra and Artyom, love under terror

DIn a letter he wrote from his prison in Moscow, Artyom wrote a flock of hearts that looked like four-legged potatoes. “It’s a cat.” His girlfriend, Alexandra, reads the message again and starts laughing.

He simply had the same clumsy design tattooed on his arm because he wanted to “have a piece of Artyom forever” on his body. As long as he still laughs, “she doesn’t skin him.”

In September, 32-year-old Artyom Kamardine was arrested and, according to him, was raped by the police. His crime? He sings a poem against the attack in Ukraine. Since then, 28-year-old Aleksandra Popova has been clinging to small symbols in order not to sink.

A few months ago, this couple thought their future was ahead of them. However, after the intervention of Russian troops in Ukraine, the lovers were caught in the accelerating repression machine in Russia.

This armed conflict has forever separated thousands of couples and families torn apart by death. Tens of thousands of others, more fortunate, nevertheless have to experience painful separation caused by military mobilization or forced exiles.

For Artyom and Alexandra, it was their opposition to Vladimir Putin who plunged them into hell. More precisely, September 26.


That day, the hooded police broke into their apartment: they are looking for Artyum, they take him to a separate room. According to the lawyer, he claims he was beaten and cheated with a dumbbell bar. Alexandra says the police brutalized her, sprayed her cheeks and mouth with strong glue, and threatened her with “gang rape.”

After that, Artyom is forced to submit an apology, which is recorded and published on the Internet. General punishment is common in several authoritarian regimes, but rare in Moscow.

According to Alexandra, Artyom was threatened with rape in prison after his arrest. Since then, he has refused to discuss the matter publicly.

The couple filed a complaint and Russia’s Investigative Committee announced an investigation into possible “abuse of official powers” in late November, according to a document seen by AFP.

Alexandra is traumatized. “At home, I imagine that the door will be broken down, or that they will follow me or knock on me,” she said. “I know it’s paranoia, it’s not real, but I don’t feel safe anymore.”

A day before his arrest, Artyom recited one of his poems during the reading of “anti-military mobilization” in front of the statue of Soviet-era poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, where dissidents gathered in Moscow.

The said “Kill me, militia!” text is a middle finger to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

During his speech, Artyom Kamard also shouted an insulting slogan against the imperial plan of “New Russia” to annex southern Ukraine.

“His poetry is very brutal, but he’s a very sweet guy,” comments Alexandra.

He knew by heart the article of the Criminal Code under which Artyom was prosecuted: Article 282 Part 2 Clause A. “Incitement to hatred by violence or threat of violence.” Maximum penalty: six years in prison.

“You Can’t Run From Love”

Alexandra and Artyom met during an opposition demonstration in 2019. First they became friends, then last year the young woman gave in to the young man’s advances. “You can’t run away from love,” he says.

He is an engineer and crazy about poetry. Later, he worked in the opposition Yabloko party. They are part of this politicized Moscow bubble that unites artists, journalists and activists. “It’s a way of life, not a hobby,” emphasizes Alexandra.

Their community is now subject to intensified repression. Thousands of fines and hundreds of prison sentences fell on those who condemned the attack in Ukraine. Many fled the country.

Alexandra and Artyom took the first punishment themselves. In the spring, they were arrested during an anti-war demonstration. For this he received a simple fine, but he had to spend 25 days in jail.

Today, two lovers want to get married in prison. This will make it easier for Alexandra to visit Artyom. He has not seen her since his arrest.

On November 24, we found him at the hearing on the extension of Artyom’s prison term. But the poet was not presented to the judge that day, because he was transferred to a psychiatric hospital for “examination”.

Alexandra has a lump in her throat as she leaves the court. “I was hoping to see and hear from him.” His hands are shaking from the cold. it’s late “I have to go home.” He lights a cigarette and leaves the night.

12/04/2022 05:20:01 – Moscow (AFP) – © 2022 AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *