We also see the job of The Ark as helping people get on their feet, adapt to a new environment, so they are active and involved in grassroots initiatives and become volunteers themselves. Another goal is the desire to pass on to others experience and knowledge about politics supporting social connections – all this will be needed in Russia after the fall of the Putin regime, when those who left can return home. I believe that these people will be the “reserve” (sorry for this trendy word) of the future free Russia and future transformations in Russia.What are you doing to defend the interests of Russians abroad?
Usually, we are dealing with restrictions that are the result of either sanctions or the deterioration in diplomatic relations, for example, amid the cancellation of agreements establishing a simplified visa regime with Russia.
Today, many organizations are working on these issues, including The Ark. We participate in a human rights coalition with more than 10 projects that helps those who consciously refused to be mobilized. In this area, The Ark advocates for the issuance of humanitarian visas, verifies information and helps to institutionalize this support. Note that before the invasion of Ukraine, a number of countries did not have such a procedure, and its emergence is the result of the work of Russian civil society, as well as supporting organizations and politicians.
We also work with Russians who do not have a political background, do not have grounds for obtaining a humanitarian visa or have not been persecuted. We are trying to conduct advocacy on this track, for migration visas.
The Ark provides assistance to those who require shelter or temporary protection. Most often these are deserters or people who consciously refused military service. For several months now, we, together with our colleagues at the Human Rights Coalition
, have been closely working with EU structures: we advise and offer our assistance with verification of personal data.
In visa-free countries, where the largest migration flow is going, besides humanitarian aspects, we help with interacting with the local authorities. In particular, we explain why there have been criminal cases brought in Russia against these citizens when in fact the charges are politically motivated. We thus reduce the risk of these people being deported. In addition, we cooperate with local human rights organizations to quickly provide legal assistance if something happens. This is constant, albeit nearly invisible, work.
In the current situation, it is impossible to work under the same conditions as before: Russians can no longer easily obtain visas. So, we are focused on [providing] personal assistance to those who are at risk of persecution in Russia, on the most difficult cases.