January 30, 2023

Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

2 min read

Vladimir Osichkin says he was walking to his dining room table, plates of spaghetti in hand for his children, when he saw red lasers dancing on the wall.

He knew what was coming.

Turning off the lights, he says he and his wife pulled their children to the ground, quickly moving out of sight to a different area of ​​the apartment. A few minutes later, Osechkin says, a would-be assassin opened fire, mistaken for a Russian adversary as police officers rushed in.

For the next 30 minutes, Osechkin told CNN, his wife and children lay on the floor. His wife, who was close to his children, shielded him from more bullets during the September 12 attack.

“In the last 10 years I have done a lot for human rights and the protection of other people. But in that moment, I understood that my mission to help other people created a great danger for my family. is,” Osichkin told CNN from France, where he has lived since 2015 after fleeing Russia and claiming asylum. He now has full-time police protection.

He has become a champion of the growing number of high-level Russian officials heading west, emboldened and disillusioned by the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. He says that former generals and intelligence agents are among their number.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to hunt down perceived enemies of the Kremlin abroad. Osichkin has been arrested in absentia in Russia and is currently on the “wanted list” of Russian authorities. France has offered him sanctuary, but safety is more difficult.

Osechkin’s work as an investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist β€” which means he’s made it his business to pry into the secrets of the Russian state β€” helps to some extent. Twice, he tells CNN, the tip-off has led killers to his door.

“Vladimir, be careful,” a source in the Chechen diaspora texted him in February. “There’s already a prepayment offer to get you over with.”

Osechkin’s response is chillingly calm. “Good evening. Great. And how much is offered for my gray head?”

Osechkin now lives under constant armed guard provided by the French authorities, his address and routine secret.

Read the full story:

High-ranking Russian officials are defecting.  This man is helping them  CNN

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