Igor Volobuev, the vice-president of Gazprombank (Russia’s third-largest bank with ties to the oil giant), has left Russia for Ukraine and intends to join territorial defense forces. In a conversation with writer Sergey Loiko for The Insider, he shared he had been born in Okhtyrka, Sumy region, and had decided to return to Ukraine to defend his native country.
“I couldn’t bear to stay in Russia any longer. I’m an ethnic Ukrainian, born in Okhtyrka, and I couldn't stay on the sidelines watching Russia ravaging my motherland. My visit is an act of penitence. I want to scrub myself clean from my Russian past. I will remain in Ukraine until its victory,” announced Volobuev.
He also remarked he had wanted to return to Ukraine ever since 2004 but had not been able to because of his family circumstances.
He defined Russia's aggression against Ukraine as a war crime.
“This crime is being committed by Putin, the Russian government, and, in fact, the people of Russia. Because it’s not Putin who is killing Ukrainians, looting houses, or raping women here. It's the Russian people. And even though I’m an ethnic Ukrainian, I’m also responsible for that. I feel ashamed, and I will spend the rest of my life repenting because my share of responsibility is twice as big: I’m not just a Russian national. I was born [in Ukraine] and lived here for 18 years, so my responsibility is twice or three times as big,” said Volobuev.
He also commented on the deaths of Gazprombank’s former vice-president, Vladislav Avaev, and his family. Relaying the Investigative Committee’s report, Russian media wrote that the top manager had killed his wife and daughter and committed suicide. According to Volobuev, his death was murder made to look like a suicide.
“I’d like to specify: he ranked higher than a vice-president. He was First VP, which is two positions higher than mine. I don’t know what he did. We weren’t acquainted, and I'd never heard of him before [Gazprombank]. I also know that, at the moment of his alleged suicide, he remained First Vice-President at Gazprombank. I don't believe he was capable of killing his family; I think it was staged. What for? It’s hard to say. He might have known something. He might have posed a threat,” Volobuev added.