Sergei Chmykhun, the snitch (left), and his friend Oleg Belousov (right)
In Saint Petersburg, security services kicked down the door of amateur archaeologist Oleg Belousov’s apartment, searched the premises, and detained him. Belousov is raising a disabled son and opposes the war. He criticized Vladimir Putin and Russian troops and protested the hostilities in Ukraine in a local “detectorist” chat on Vkontakte. A friend of his reported him to the authorities and provided access to his social media account to officers of the Center for Combating Extremism, who monitored the chat for anti-war messages. According to the MIA report, the search of Belousov’s apartment yielded “Nazi Germany-era heraldic emblems, fiver WWII bullets, and a knife”,
reports Podvig. The journalists spoke to the informant, Servei Chmykhun. Before the war, the two men were in close contact. Chmykhun sold Belousov a metal detector; they often messaged and were both on the local detectorist chat. When the war began, Belousov started criticizing Putin and voicing his attitude to war in the chat. As Chmykhun shared with the journalists, debates on war crimes and messages like “Putler is a balding bastard” sent him over the edge. He wanted to “re-educate” Oleg and get him to “see reason”.
Meanwhile, he spared no effort in trying to convince Belousov that the Bucha massacre had been staged by Ukrainians and that Russian soldiers never raped anyone.
“As for his misconceptions, I spent a good two weeks trying to bring him around,” Chmykhun says. “I tried to get him to understand his position was unacceptable. It wasn't a matter of a day or two; he couldn't have been drunk. I’ve known him for about three years. His being opposed to the government and Putin earlier was a political matter. If you don't like United Russia, go and protest, no big deal. But now, he's not even Vlasov [Soviet general and the most notorious Nazi collaborator] – he is the UPA [the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a WWII paramilitary formation known for its brutality].”
Chmykhun boasted that he had managed to shut up all war critics in the chat because they knew he could report them to the Center for Combating Extremism. He does not seem to care that Belousov, who is a single father, is now facing million-ruble fines or a prison term because “Oleg has a car, two apartments, and vinyl records 30,000 rubles each”.
He later shared screenshots of local classifieds where Oleg was selling rare coins, tokens, insignia, and other detectorist's findings. There were indeed a few vinyl records for sale, but their price was way below 30,000 rubles. However, they will do little to help Belousov's 21-year-old son Daniil who has trouble taking care of himself because of his disability.