9 Mar, 2022 @ 08:45
1 min read

‘We’re not Putin’: Expat Russian in Spain speaks out against war in Ukraine

Protest Against Vladimir Putin In Barcelona, Spain 02 Mar 2022
Photo: Cordon Press.

SINCE Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stories of the plight of refugees, armed service people, and citizens trapped in their besieged home cities have, rightly, abounded.  

But this seismic geopolitical event has also had a terrible impact on many ordinary Russians, particularly those residing abroad.

The Olive Press caught up with Igor Bagaev, a 56-year-old promoter for concerts and cultural events who resides in Estepona.  

EU sanctions mean he has had his assets frozen and is effectively banned from working.

“I regret what has happened to Russians like me here in Spain, though our problems are nothing compared to what is happening to the people of Ukraine,” he told The Olive Press.

Protest Against Vladimir Putin In Barcelona, Spain 02 Mar 2022
A protester holds a placard reading ‘Rusos por la paz’ (Russians for Peace) during a demonstration.
Photo: Cordon press.

He says he has no idea if he will be able to go back, as he has been highly critical of Vladimir Putin both in his workplace and on social media.

“I have no plan. We are all hostages to Putin. Most of all the Ukrainian people.” 

For all the talk of sanctions on Russian oligarchs, there has been little analysis of the sanctions falling on Russians who have no affiliation with the Kremlin and whose career, in Igor’s case the arts, shares few parallels with the widespread corruption found at the top of Russian business.

Indeed, Igor left the Russian federation six years ago precisely because he hated the way the Kremlin sought to influence his work.“I wanted to move my family to a free society. I never voted for Putin.” he said. 

Igor Pic
Igor Bagaev, resident in Spain for six years, has been shut out from his own business.

“Since the invasion my wife cries several times a day and I am scared for my children. My little boy had his first day of school today, but I can’t help but feel worried about his future. Normal Russians are not the enemy and I am not an oligarch.”

Nonetheless, the one thing he reiterates is how opposed he is to Putin’s actions, “A lot of Russians feel a lot of pain right now. We can only hope for a miracle to end this Stalin-style regime,” he said.


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