I’m 25 years old. I was born in Yerevan, Armenia, but my family moved to Moscow when I was very young. I have been striking every Friday in Pushkin Square since the 15th of March 2019. Last year was my graduation year from the Moscow Conservatory, where I played the violin, and I was busy preparing for my final exams, but I had to focus on growing the climate strikes in Russia because the fact that people just carry on with their lives, and don’t pay attention to the climate catastrophe that is upon us, became unbearable for me.
Since I became an activist, my life has changed a lot. I’ve changed a lot myself. I don’t play violin anymore. It feels strange for me to play while people suffer and die, and with catastrophe looming. I would like to live like other people, but I can’t. Because I know there is no chance for a stable future if we don’t change a lot of things.
What is striking like in your country?
Local governments often refuse applications for mass protests. The only form of protest allowed is single pickets – so we stand in single file every Friday.
In December 2019, I was jailed for 6 days for an unauthorized strike with 3 people. I had sent an application to local authorities for a ‘mass’ strike and they refused, even though their refusal was illegal. It was the tenth application that they had illegally refused. At first, I was amazed by the strikes in Europe, where police protect protesters.
What will your strikes look like in April?
We are planning a digital strike, highlighting important issues each Friday, posting art, and photos of us striking at home under #ClimateStrikeOnline, and using TikTok. The movement is only small in Russia though, and if we can’t stand in the street where everyone can see us, it is very hard to get the message across. So, we will spend a lot of time on calls – chatting, learning, and keeping motivation high. It’s important we get through this period, because it’s not a one-year struggle, especially here in Russia. They can’t stop us though, and they can’t put science and knowledge in jail. The movement consists of many independent and smart activists who will continue to act no matter what. Because youth is unstoppable, and it’s our future.
Despite the fact that our generation spends a lot of time on the Internet, I miss the outside world. I hope it will be safe to be back on the streets soon. Without that, it’s impossible to get changes from politicians. While we stay at home during this crisis, it’s unsettling to see the Russian government continuing to show such indifference for future crises. We fight for our future and we fight for our present. It’s not two crises, it’s one big crisis, and the main cause is indifference to others.