Pavel Filatiew, who recently caused a stir with his descriptions of the Russian army and his reports on the Ukraine war, has now applied for political asylum in France. This was made known by human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin on Sunday evening.
In a video taken of himself at Charles de Gaulle airport, Filatiev explains how the Ukraine war turned him away from the patriotism he had previously harbored for Russia. He had landed there shortly before and applied for asylum upon arrival.
“You want to be useful for your country, you love your country, but then there is a government in your country that doesn’t give a shit,” says Filatiew in the video. “The value of human life there is simply zero.”
Speaking to the camera, Filatiev runs to the airport restroom, where he curses and tears up his, veteran’s and military passports in front of the camera. He holds each document up to the camera before tearing it into scraps of paper.
The video then shows how Filatiev collects the pieces of paper that were previously his documents, throws them into the nearest toilet and flushes them down. “I love all Russian people, but Putin is not Russia. The government right now is not Russia,” he says at the end of the video and then insults Putin again.
Filatiev had previously landed in Paris, where he traveled with the help of the NGO Gulag.net. “The New Dissidents Foundation and the Gulagu net team did everything to help Pavel to save his freedom, health and life and to get into the field of democracy and human rights,” the NGO wrote on its Youtube Channel.
According to Gulag.net, Filatiev’s rights in France are being defended by lawyer Kamalia Mehtiyeva. The NGO had published Filatiev’s video on its channel. Gulag.net is run by exiled human rights activist Vladimir Osechikin, himself based in Paris. The NGO has set itself the task of uncovering torture and corruption in the Russian prison system.
Filatiew had ended his military service in Ukraine for medical reasons – and then criticized the conditions in the Russian army. He was denied medical care, and he and his comrades did not know before the war began that they would be sent to war.
In his book “ZOV”, which he published as a PDF file on the Russian network VKontakte, he also called the Ukraine war war – and not “special operation”, as the war is officially called in Russia.
Calling the war by its name can be punished in Russia with up to 15 years in prison. It is likely that Filatiev would face criminal prosecution after his public statements on the Ukraine war and his criticism of the president and the defense ministry in Russia.