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A Slovak Putin Admirer Immigrated to Russia and Got Arrested

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In early May, Ján Mazák, a forty-six-year-old man from Košice, attempted to swim across the Narva River from Estonia to Russia out of admiration for the country. However, he was promptly apprehended by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for illegally crossing the border. This led to his detention in a Russian prison for over two months, an experience that sobered him up from his previous admiration for Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Reflecting on his time in the Russian prison, Mazák expressed his empathy for Ukrainian prisoners, believing that they must suffer greatly. He criticized the treatment they receive, describing it as barbaric, highlighting that it applies to both Russians and non-Russians. Mazák was eventually fined 4,700 crowns by the court and ordered to leave Russia immediately.

Although Mazák did not endure physical torture or beatings during his imprisonment, he experienced various forms of psychological abuse. The lack of contact with his family for two months and the news of his grandmother’s death upon his return to Estonia constituted some of the distressing incidents. He emphasized that his experience in the Russian prison would have been overwhelming if he hadn’t already faced challenging life situations.

Mazák, who initially portrayed himself as a fervent Russia supporter and aspired to emigrate there, realized the bleak reality within the Russian prison system. Despite his lawyers’ advice to wait for September to attempt legalizing his stay, Mazák decided not to take any further risks. He considered Russian prisons to be vastly different from their Slovakian counterparts, describing them as camps or gulags.

A trained musician skilled in playing the cello and piano, as well as composing operas, symphonies, and chamber works, Mazák worked as a conductor and choirmaster in the Košice theatre. However, his bakery business failed, leading to financial troubles and homelessness, which exacerbated his suicidal thoughts.

After his harrowing experience in the Russian prison, Mazák composed a song titled “Leaders of the Great Russian People” as a tribute to Putin but discarded it in front of Russian defense attorneys and police officers, symbolizing his loss of respect for Putin and Russia. He firmly believes that Putin is aware of the situation within his country, as he exercises substantial control over its affairs.

Initially convinced that Russia’s aggression stemmed from provocation by the United States, Mazák believed the narrative that Russia aimed to dismantle American nuclear programs in Ukraine. However, he now expresses doubts about the credibility of Russian media. When asked about his future path, Mazák simply stated that it will no longer lead him towards the east.



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