“I don’t want to act like a coward. I go there for the adventure”

This idea haunts us. Soon, maybe tomorrow, the Russian state will present our friends with a terrible choice: go to war or go to prison. These friends, who we sometimes have known since childhood (and whose first names we have changed to protect them), live in different cities and have different jobs. But now they must wait together for the military commissar to knock on their door with the mobilization order in hand, Vladimir Putin’s invitation to war. How do you live with it?

Nikolaï appears on the computer screen dressed in a bathrobe but with a military cap. He is 31 years old, a locksmith and lives in Voronezh, not far from the Ukrainian border. He has a girlfriend but no children. Andréï, we have always known him. He served in the Elite Airborne Reconnaissance Detachment of Paratroopers. We ask him what he thinks of the mobilization. “300 kilometers from here we have what has to be called by its name, a war. So if they call me, yes I will go. »

fake military map

And there, on the screen, Nikolai begins to imagine an unlikely dialogue with the military commissar, who may be looking for him. “He’ll ask me, ‘Are you going or not?’ I will answer: “Comrade Major of the Guard, I am a patriot, but I do not want to find myself on the straw. I am 1000% prepared, I know how to get on and off a Kalash, I know how to.” shoots, also with a grenade launcher, I have a tank driver’s license, I am physically prepared. I will fight, but not for you, my colleague, I will go, but only for the money. Please give me three “pies” [3 millions de roubles, soit 54 000 euros] and 150,000 rubles [2 700 euros] every month and, okay, I’m ready for six months! »

Read the report by Elizaveta Chougounova and Andrey Kazantsev: Article reserved for our subscribers Forgotten by Moscow, loyal to Putin: Fère-Champenoise, Russian-style fatalism

At the end of our conversation, Nikolai asks me if some of our friends want to evade conscription by buying fake military ID cards that indicate their medical incapacity. He can provide it for 240,000 rubles (4,300 euros). Nikolaï explains that these documents are selling like hot cakes.

“Either I come home with a lot of fun stories or I don’t come back, but I will be a hero. » Mikhail

Mikhail, 30, does social media marketing for a large steel company. We worked together in the same company. Misha is a representative of hipster youth. He lives alone. We often ate and celebrated together. He made us laugh with silly stories about his military service. He gives the impression that he makes no distinction between service and war.

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