Russian journalist Elena Kostyuchenko tells how she survived a poisoning

Russian journalist Elena Kosyuchenko is one of the bravest people in Russia. One of the researchers most often pointed to the atrocities of Vladimir Putin’s regime, and paid the price for it.published in new newspaperA newspaper banned by the Kremlin continues to publish even outside Russia, and its director has even won a Nobel Prize.

In his book he published a chronicle of the invasion of Ukraine until his voice was silenced. First they attacked her, and then they murdered her, when she was in exile in Germany.

Now, Elena Kostyuchenko recounts what happened in those weeks, an ode to a free press, democracy and the need to tell the powerful what they don’t environmental survey an expert Already exposed it.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve written this article. It’s still disgusting, scary and shameful to do so,” he began, warning that he couldn’t tell everything he knew because he had to protect those who saved him. people of life. After describing his first few days reporting in Ukraine, he said that on March 29 he met with volunteers and some who traveled to Mariupol “to try to save loved ones”. “I found a guy who was willing to drive me in his car, even though I had a Russian passport. We agreed to leave on March 31,” but things went wrong. “The day before departure, I was in the hotel, trying to rest and recharge, when one of my colleagues from Novaya called me and asked if I was going to Mariupol. This surprised me: Novaya Ya only two people knew I was going there: editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov and my own editor, Olga Bobrova. “Yes, I’m going tomorrow. Leave,” I told him. Then he said, “My sources contacted me. They know you are going to Mariupol, and they tell me that Kadyrov’s men have been ordered to find you. He was sentenced to death.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Putin’s Chechen defenses, calls himself the Kremlin’s “foot soldiers.” A bloodthirsty person who even defends attacks on Ukraine, countries near NATO territory. control of the pro-Russian Chechen army, Kadyrovtsiapparently committed to suppressing any separatists.

“They’re not going to stop you. They’re going to kill you. It’s all set,” his colleagues told him. Kosyuchenko didn’t believe it, and his friends told him he didn’t either…until they played an audio of her discussing the trip with her boss. “When she hung up, I was sitting on the bed. My mind went blank. I was just sitting there.” Then a flurry of calls came through his medium, with the same message: Go away. “But I couldn’t leave.” She was still trying to get to Mariupol, but was then ordered to delete news of her. Their newspaper resisted, but they threatened to shut down the site, which eventually happened. “It absolutely broke me down. I started crying and couldn’t stop crying. But instead of tears, I was filled with anger.”

“They won’t stop you. They’ll kill you. It’s all set”

She’s just worried that something will happen to the person who agrees to drive her because the reporter insists on covering the war. “I left Ukraine the night before April 2.” “When I left I was in very bad health. I had lice, mumps and PTSD,” he said. Her family and friends take care of her. Despite the assassination plans, she just wants to go back to Russia. “On the afternoon of April 28, I got a call from Muratov. He was very soft-spoken. ‘I know you want to go home,’ he said, ‘but you can’t go back to Russia. They’re going to kill you here.’ When I hung up the phone, I screamed. I stayed in the middle of the street, yelling,” he explained. Her supervisor even gave her the excuse the Kremlin would use: “He said if they killed me, it would look like a hate crime. ‘The right hates lesbians, and you’re a lesbian,'” he told her.

He kept calling his boss to ask if it was time to come back, but the answer was always “no.” So, he went to Germany and rented an apartment in Berlin. “September 29 was my first day at the company jellyfish. We decided that my first reporting trip would be to Iran. He has been there before and knows how to work there”, but his idea is to return to Ukraine as soon as possible. He tells how he went to the Ukrainian consulate in Munich to apply for a visa before leaving for another trip, how he was contacted to buy him How Friends of the House, and the official website where you have to sign up for the petition, was hacked.

As he returned to Berlin by bus, he began rereading notes from books he had written during the war and found himself reading the same passages over and over again. “I listened to my body and realized I had a headache. It was three weeks after I had the coronavirus and I was worried I might get it again. I called Yana (her partner) and told her I was feeling bad.” Let’s hope it’s not coronavirus,” I told him, “otherwise how would I get to Iran? ”

“Then I tried to get back into proofreading, but I just had a meltdown. The headache was getting worse. I was sweating and went to the bathroom to wipe myself with more tissues.” She arrived disoriented and didn’t even know what to do. Whichever bus I took to go home, I stopped from time to time because my luggage was too heavy, and I was out of breath walking on the stairs. In his apartment, he immediately went to bed with a stomachache that was worse when he woke up.

“What woke me up was a weird pain in my abdomen. The pain wasn’t sharp, but it was intense, and it felt like someone was flipping a switch to turn it off and on. I tried to sit up, but immediately went back to the original Location.” “The bed. The room seemed to be spinning around me, and with each revolution I got more sick. I managed to walk to the bathroom and throw up,” she recalls. More pain, more tears and whippings woke her up after a call from her family that her long-awaited trip was cancelled. His head was spinning, and it was “obvious” it wasn’t the coronavirus.

“What woke me up was a strange pain in my abdomen. The pain wasn’t sharp, but it was sharp, like someone was flipping a switch to turn it off and on. I tried to sit up, but immediately went back to bed. The room seemed Spinning. “Around me, every turn makes me sick”

After delays in making appointments and diagnosing persistent COVID-19, journalists insisted they take additional tests. “My liver enzyme levels ALT and AST were five times higher than normal. My urine sample showed blood.” They thought of viral hepatitis contracted during the war. But the symptoms changed. “My stomach didn’t hurt as much and my head didn’t spin as much. I had zero energy. My face started to swell. Next came my fingers. After a struggle, I managed to get the ring off, only to find I couldn’t get out of it. Going back and putting them on again. My toes look like sausages. My feet are starting to swell too. The swelling is making my jaw disappear. It’s not my face anymore. I need time in front of the mirror to find myself in it… Every now and then, my heart starts beating faster. My hands and feet sometimes start burning. When they burn, they look red and glowing.”

He couldn’t walk and couldn’t sleep. His analysis got worse and no one found out what happened to him. A trusted doctor around her did additional tests, and when she got home, he sent her a message: “Is there any possibility you’ve been poisoned?” he asked. “No. I’m not that dangerous,” she said. He even talked about it with his girlfriend.

In mid-December, she was told: “Elena, there are only two possibilities. One is that the antidepressant you’re on starts affecting you in a totally unexpected way. But she recently switched medications, symptoms and blood The check is still the same.” …then there is another possibility, please try not to feel bad, you may be poisoned. “

In Germany, when faced with such suspicions, the police must step in. Kostyuchenko was questioned and her apartment was searched, as was her clothes. She had to live a life of persecution. Change houses, park farther away from the house, see who is stalking her, walk with someone else, put on sunglasses… She approached agents who had already worked on Russian poisoning cases and explained to them, It seems “ridiculous” to do so. She can attack it on European soil. In April, staff from an expert Contact her: They are tracking the poisoning of Russian journalists and she may be on the list.

“On 2 May, a letter from the Berlin prosecutor’s office informed me that the outstanding case related to my assassination attempt had been closed. Detectives were unable to identify “any sign” of my poisoning because “existing blood tests There was no way to prove “obvious poisoning,” he added. According to his analysis, he was probably the victim of poisoning by “chlorinated organic compounds”. Investigation is ongoing.

Now, the reporter says “the pain, nausea and swelling are gone,” but her energy isn’t there. He didn’t get to document any subjects, he didn’t work in the medium that gave him the opportunity, he could barely work for more than three hours straight. He intends to publish his book “Russia’s Road to Fascism” soon. “The detectives think this may cause those who tried to kill me in Ukraine, possibly in Germany, to try again. But I want to live and that’s why I’m writing this,” he concluded.

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