Opposition activist Ilya Pakhomov came home this week to find his Moscow flat’s front door daubed with graffiti and a sticker calling him a “collaborator” for opposing Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
Russian opposition supporters have reported a wave of similar acts of intimidation since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
On Wednesday evening, Pakhomov posted on Twitter a photograph of his front door with the white painted letter Z, used to symbolise support for Russia’s military in Ukraine.
Also pasted on the door was a sign with his photograph, calling him a “collaborator” and accusing him of public acts aimed at discrediting the armed forces, now a criminal offence.
“Don’t sell your motherland,” it warned Pakhomov, a supporter of jailed Kremlin foe Alexey Navalny.
“I’ve seen this kind of thing on social media, it’s clearly a protest organised ‘from above,’” Pakhomov tweeted.
“I don’t see myself as a traitor or collaborator,” he stressed. “The traitors are the people who do this cr**.”
Выходил из дома полтора часа назад, все было нормально, а сейчас моя дверь выглядит так.
Я такое видел уже в соцсетях, это явно организованная «сверху» акция.
Пишу заявление в полицию.
Ну и предателем и коллаборантом себя не считаю.
Предатели — те, кто этой фигней занимаются. pic.twitter.com/BJSUXHG4Zb
— Ilya Pahomov (@ilyapahomov) March 30, 2022
Pakhomov said he was reporting the incident to police but had little hope of a probe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described such acts as “hooligan stunts” in response to a journalist’s question.
If the victims “consider themselves in danger or there is damage to property, then of course they have the right to contact the appropriate authorities”, he said.
We look at why the letter ‘Z’ has been embraced by supporters of Russia’s war in Ukraine ⤵️
Read more: https://t.co/RpwnnVR6jw pic.twitter.com/spX4nfHNx7
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 13, 2022
Very similar attacks have been carried out on homes of several opposition figures.
On Thursday, another Moscow activist, Lyudmila Shtein, tweeted a photo of a similar “collaborator” notice on her front door, adding wryly: “Ok then, whatever you say”.
Former editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, Alexei Venediktov, last week wrote on Telegram that a pig’s head dressed in a wig had been dumped by his front door, while a sticker on the door showed the Ukrainian national symbol of a trident with the word “Judensau”, an anti-Jewish term.
Ekho Moskvy, which aired opposition views, has shut down over the new law banning spreading “deliberately false information” about the conflict.
A few days earlier, Oleg Orlov, a senior campaigner at the banned Memorial rights group, had his front door tagged with “Z” and his photo pasted on with the word “collaborator”.
This was done while he was attending a court hearing for a solo protest against Putin’s military action.
Film critic Anton Dolin wrote on Facebook that his door was daubed “Z” on the day he left the country, March 6.
Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Russian authorities have cracked down further on the few remaining independent media outlets and on opposition activists who remain in the country.
In mid-March, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a “self-purification of society” to rid it of “traitors”.
The Z symbol is widely used by Russian authorities and Putin supporters, decorating building facades, bus doors, car windscreens and T-shirts.