This story in the Komsomolka was written by Darya Aslamova. Over drinks Darya had a “frank conversation” with Russian Dissident Alexei Sakhnin, who had fled to Sweden at the height of the “Bolotnaya” protests. Those demonstrations in the Moscow streets featured a motley Popular Front of Lefties, Righties, and everybody in between, who desire to drive Russian President Vladimir Putin out of office. Sakhnin was one of the militants on the so-called “Lefty” end of the scale. And yet these so-called Leftists, who consider themselves to be Marxist-Leninists (sort of) apparently never actually read Lenin’s polemical works; otherwise they might have thought twice about linking arms with fascists, Navalnyites, bourgeois liberals, CIA agents, and various other flotsam and jetsam!
At that time, within the popular front movement, Alexei was the coordinator for the “Left Front” political party. When he saw that all his friends were being arrested by the authorities, he panicked, fled, and requested asylum in Sweden.
A few years have passed, and a few rivers have flowed into the sea since those heady Bolotnaya times. Our intrepid journalist Darya took a trip to Stockholm to meet with Alexei, to see how he is getting along nowadays. In the evening, she writes, all the Swedish bars are packed to the gills, she and Alexei had to try three pubs before they were finally able to find a place to sit down and chat. Whew! Darya quickly orders whiskey for two. Alexei hurriedly adds an order for a beer chaser. “Wow, look at you!” Darya laughs. “Polishing it off!”
“Out of joy,” Alexei replies, “that I finally get to sit down and talk with a Russian person again.”
“When I arrived here,” Alexei begins, “I was in a state of hysteria. I immediately wrote 500 letters to politicians, journalists and human rights activists. Most of them never responded. After 4 months had passed, I wrote an article claiming that none of the Bolotnaya political prisoners would ever be released, and a respected local newspaper here, Dagens Nyheter, purchased the article. And the next day my telephone started to ring off the hook. It was the same people to whom I had written letters before, and who never responded. And they all said the same thing: I just found your letter, it inadvertently got lost in my spam filter, let’s get together and meet…”
In short, after his breakthrough with the newspaper article, Sakhnin acquired an instant reputation among the Swedish political elite as a “good Ivan Ivanych”.
“In other words, the newspaper confirmed your respectability?” Darya hints.
“Can you imagine? There is an infinite level of conformity. Sweden is probably the last remaining country where the broad masses still believe their own mainstream media. (In Russia) even the most zombified people can sniff out propaganda. But in Sweden, if a person opens a newspaper and reads that in Russia there live humans with the heads of dogs, then he will believe that it is precisely so. This is simply a geographical fact. Although… Later I came to learn that even in Sweden there are some silent masses whom the local media simply detest. When I finished my (Swedish) language course, I started to learn Swedish history. This was in a type of night school where you also encounter Swedes who never graduated from school. People from the bottom of the heap. And it is these people who, with a deep secret loathing, hate the local press. Why? (…) In Sweden the expression ‘ordinary people’ sounds bad — these are cattle, the unwashed mob. A huge number of people fall out of the public discourse. Nobody includes them, or talks to them. I recall how, in the last election the party Swedish Democrats came in third. Next day I open the newspaper and there are black banners, as if the country is in mourning. As in ‘Yesterday 750,000 Swedes voted for this scum.’ I was astonished: Is this democracy? And if I were one of these 750,000 voters, then what kind of emotions am I supposed to have? (…)”
Next: In Sweden, Alexei evolves from “Good Guy” to “Cossack Agent”
[to be continued]