Vladimir Putin has, by all accounts, grown ever more eccentric (to put it mildly) after invading Ukraine in February 2022. He doesn’t seem too phased to be losing thousands upon thousands of soldiers by the week, although he may soon run out of recruitment strategies as the conflict keeps going. We also heard that he’s become even more reclusive and secretive, having reportedly built a web of secret train tunnels before the war, and now, a Russian amateur photographer says he is in fear for his life after snapping some photos of Putin’s so-called “ghost train.”
Those images of Putin’s apparent armored train surfaced on Mikhail Korotkov’s blog in 2021, as he told the Washington Post (via The Daily Beast). Korotkov admits that he lost sight of potential consequences, which was probably not the greatest move, considering how swiftly Putin’s critics and even friends have been known to drop out of high-story windows if they’re perceived as enemies or even detractors.
Korotkov says that he realized that he was in trouble after someone started posting transcripts of his phone conversations in his blog comments. The postings included details of upcoming hiking trips that Korotkov had planned to take with friends, and it’s unsettling stuff. From the Washington Post, here’s a major yikes:
“When I saw those conversations in my comments, that was creepy,” he said. The only explanation, he said, was that he was being watched by the Federal Security Service, or FSB. He interpreted the messages as a warning to stop. “I thought about my personal safety, and from that moment I realized that everything I had published on the internet could be used against me,” he said. The childlike joy he derived from his trainspotting blog of 11 years turned to ashes.
“I told my parents that my life was in danger,” he said.
Very quickly, Korotkov started to realize that he needed to get the heck out of Russia. He claims that he grew worried and shuttered his blog, lest the FSB attempt to press charges on him for the photos (“on sabotage or terrorism charges”). Korotkov eventually did leave Russia after an incident where the apartment below his mysteriously caught on fire (on the day of Russia’s initial Ukraine invasion), and he moved to Sri Lanka by way of Kazakhstan. Korotkov admits that he misses his family, but he’s obviously happy to be alive. Whew.
(Via Washington Post & The Daily Beast)