Within Putin’s regime, Russian opponents joined Ukrainian refugees in Israel.

AFP – As Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Russian filmmakers Anna Shishova-Bogoliupova and Dmitry Bogoliupova learned that they had to leave Moscow.

“We are next on the list,” the couple told AFP in a borrowed apartment in the quiet Israeli town of Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv.

“Once you join the list of so-called” foreign agents, “you will face a life of” self-censorship or imprisonment sooner or later, “said Bogolipov, who directed the German-funded 2019 documentary” Down of Glory “.

The film depicts Russian President Vladimir Putin using references to the struggle against Nazi Germany to establish his power in Russian villages.

As its international isolation deepens, it has come to Moscow with suspicion to watch all foreign-funded films, including documentaries, and the couple said it was no exception.

“For the past few years, we have been under threat. Especially in the last few months, people have been spying on us and photographing us in our galleries,” Shishova-Bogoliupova said.

On March 13, 2022, in Manojnaya Square in central Moscow, a Russian police officer was detained during a protest against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. (AFP)

The couple decided to continue working in Russia, but using their Jewish descent, they obtained Israeli citizenship.

Israeli return law grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, a criterion met by tens of thousands in Russia and Ukraine.

Since the invasion of Russia by Russian troops on February 24, nearly 24,000 Ukrainians have fled to Israel, but some but not all have used the law, according to immigration ministry figures. An Israeli immigration official told the AFP that about 10,000 Russians had joined them.

“Most of them are young graduates, from the urban middle class,” the official said, asking not to be identified.

Like Bokolyubovs, the Moscow-born linguist Olga Romanova was ready for the day when she would not feel safe in Russia.

After Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, he applied for an Israeli passport. “I always thought I would be reunited with my children in Israel one day, but I realized things were going wrong in Russia,” 69- told the AFP, surrounded by photos of his grandchildren at his son’s house outside Jerusalem.

Demonstrators protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine on March 12, 2022 in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg / Flash90)

When the invasion began on the morning of February 24, Romanova said, “This is proof that I must leave as soon as possible.” “The war in Ukraine does not fit my way of thinking and my moral values. I am not sick,” she said with tears in her eyes.

The last seven weeks have seen a wave of immigration from Ukraine and Russia, the largest Israel since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, prompting hundreds of thousands of people to seek new life on the shores of the Mediterranean.

“Here, we feel safe and can sleep peacefully once again,” Shishova-Bogoliyupova said. “My four-year-old daughter with diabetes is fully cared for but we do not know whether we will stay – it depends on our job. Now, we want to live for a moment and recover from our emotions. Let’s see later. ”

Fearing revenge, the nicknamed violinist Sergei flew from Moscow to Israel with his pianist and three young children, but he is expected to make progress.

“I don’t know if we’ve been here. We’ll go somewhere else,” he said.

Immigrants fleeing Ukraine arrived at the Office of Immigration and Emigration on March 15, 2022 at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg / Flash90)

Even for those who deserve citizenship, Israel can be a terracotta hideout for new arrivals, and Russia’s nostalgia is not far from the surface.

Linguist Romanova found room for two books in his 20 kilograms (44 pounds) luggage, one an academic work and the other a novel by the famous Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov.

“I lost my country. It was stolen from me. It was taken by Putin and those KGB thugs,” she said nostalgically.

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