Russia again, Move to Kiev, Maidan

2006-2007 marked a turning point in my life. My parents had gone to the heavens and this loss affected me greatly. In the autumn of 2007, my friend Yuri Gladkov, Deputy Chairman of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, who had been suffering from an incurable disease for more than a year, also passed away. I sold my St. Petersburg apartment and there was nothing to keep me in Russia. In 2008, I returned to the United States, where I continued writing my book The Stolen Country, temporarily disengaging from public life and journalism. In 2011, my book was published in St. Petersburg by the DEAN publishing house and fell under displeasure immediately – they did not agree to put it up for sale since it had a satirical chapter about the current president Vladimir Putin. The coming 2012 marked the anniversary for many former political prisoners of the Soviet Union: 25 years since the liquidation of political camps in the USSR. Memorial leadership contacted me and asked to organize the Anniversary Forum of Political Prisoners in Moscow. The last time such a forum took place was in 1991 in Leningrad. In 2012 we wanted to hold it in Moscow. I left my job in the United States and moved back to St. Petersburg, where I established new contacts both in government and business. I had enough savings to go around all the capitals of the former Soviet republics again, see my friends, former political prisoners, agree on the forum date and confirm their participation. All that overlapped with the presidential election in Russia: Vladimir Putin was running again and basically did not have any competition.

What happened in Moscow in the spring of 2012? The highest political echelon did not dare to authorize such a forum in Moscow. All our efforts were in vain, except that we created the Organizing Committee from representatives of political prisoners from the six republics of the former USSR (although, we had it registered in Estonia, not in Russia). I spent the rest of the year trying to organize the forum outside Russia, but nothing came of it for a variety of objective reasons. 2013 felt like an unsuccessful year, as there was no progress or development. December made me realize the great difference between the opposition in Russia and opposition in Ukraine – the revolution started in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. These once friendly nations had a very different understanding of civil liberties and dignity. I followed the revolution from St. Petersburg throughout the winter and even made a trip to Kyiv to make sure it was real; the shootings of Maidan protesters on February 20 had changed my mind. President Yanukovych fled from Ukraine and the power had changed hands. I could not stay in Russia. As soon as it got a little warmer in April, I packed my things, got on the train and moved to Kyiv. Every day in Ukraine, I heard some political news and made new friends, both on and around the Maidan. Everything had been running its own strange and unpredictable course until August 2014 when Maidan was gone and the trivial round of political changes and election campaigns began. Every month since summer, they invited me on to various TV and radio broadcasts. At the same time, a group of activists and I established the International Anti-Putin Coalition “Stop Fascism in Russia”.

Over the next three years I had numerous meetings, broadcasts and publications not only with volunteers, but also with deputies of the new Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, top diplomats and politicians. Kyiv soon became my adopted home. The war in Donbass and the seizure of Crimea gave food for conferences and negotiations with politicians at various levels. It was ongoing until the summer of 2017, when I realized that the revolution of dignity had been simply stolen. I had no choice but to pack my things again and fly to my United States where, in 2018, I established the Foundation Stop Inform Terror (of Russia) non-profit organization. I intend to finish what I started in 1975 – to crush the power of the Communists and the Chekists in Russia. As a country opposing the aggressor, Ukraine has become the foundation to rely on and strengthen.