Denis Kataev, journalist: “I am ashamed to be Russian at this moment” | International
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Denis Kataev (Moscow, 37 years old), a journalist for the independent Russian television channel Dozhd (Rain), packed his bags on February 27, three days after Russian President Vladimir Putin began the invasion of Ukraine. He got on the last plane of the Aeroflot company leaving Moscow for Cyprus. And from there he flew to Paris, from where he continues to present a program on YouTube and prepares, along with other Dozhd journalists scattered throughout various countries, the relaunch of the network.
Ask. Why did you leave your country?
Response. It was dangerous to stay, because of the law against freedom of the press. And for my conscience it was impossible to work in an aggressor country. The atmosphere was suffocating. I was always on the air, and I didn’t say “special military operations”: I said “war”. According to the law, it cannot be said to be a war. The risk was 15 years in prison.
P. What do those who have stayed tell you?
R. Nothing has changed in Moscow. Everyone is on the terraces, taking advantage of the summer. They are only worried about the price of travel, which has increased after the war sanctions, and how to travel abroad, whether through Turkey or Serbia.
P. The Russians support Putin.
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R. There are progressive minorities in the big cities. In Moscow, in St. Petersburg. Among my friends, in my bubble, I don’t know anyone who supports Putin. They are all against the war. But for now it is the voice of state propaganda that exists and these people cannot express themselves.
P. Opponents of Putin are a bubble.
R. Yes they are. But it is also said that Paris is not France. And, at the same time, it is always those of Paris and Moscow who end up changing history. This war will be the end of Putin and his regime. The Ukrainians are undoubtedly the main victims, but it is not just a war against Ukraine. It is a war against the Russians and Russia. I believe that there is a European path for Russia, it is a path from centuries ago.
P. Are you saying that the war will be the end of the regime?
R. If when? I do not know. Maybe years, weeks, days.
P. Is Putin the problem? Or Russia? If Putin dies tomorrow, won’t someone else replace him?
R. Nerd. I understand Emmanuel Macron when he says that Russia should not be humiliated. You have to differentiate between Putin and Russia. In France and Spain there is also a part of society that is against European values and against democracy. It has been seen in the French legislative elections, with the result of the extreme left and the extreme right. Representatives of these camps are close to Putin. In Russia the conservatives and extremes are stronger than in Europe, but there are also people who are against and support the European path.
P. It is not just Putin, then: the majority supports him.
R. Yes. But in France and Europe there is no state propaganda. If the government networks and media changed in Russia, public opinion would change. That is why, for the journalists who have left, it is important to create a network of independent journalists, with Dozhd, Novaya Gazeta, Echo of Moscow, to combat propaganda.
P. You said in an interview: “Forgive us. I am ashamed”.
R. I am Russian and I feel a bit like an anti-fascist in Germany during World War II. For the victims of Nazism, there was no difference between some Germans and others: they were all Germans, guilty. I understand this feeling. That’s why I’m ashamed to be Russian right now. But you have to show the will of the Russians who are against the war, the will to change things. I’m ashamed, but I haven’t finished my work and I haven’t stopped being Russian. I have no choice. After the war, there will be a long road to repentance, like in Germany. It is our duty.
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