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How shameless snitching on neighbours is taking Putin's Russia back to the Soviet era

NewsHow shameless snitching on neighbours is taking Putin's Russia back to the Soviet era

A Russian woman who claims to have snitched on almost 1,400 people since her country’s invasion of Ukraine says she feels “joy” whenever anyone is punished as a result of her actions.

Snitching is to secretly tell someone in authority that another person has done something bad or wrong. The practice was very common during Russia’s Soviet era, where people reported their colleagues, neighbours and sometimes strangers.

Now it seems it has made a comeback as the Russian government attempts to flush out critics of the Ukraine war.

Self-proclaimed snitch Anna Korobkova told BBC News that she learnt the practice from her grandfather, who was an anonymous informant for the Soviet secret police during Stalin’s reign.

Anna claims to have written 1,397 denunciations about anyone who criticises the war and says people have been fined, fired and labelled as foreign agents as a result of her denunciations.

She said: “I do not feel sorry for them. I feel joy if they are punished because of my denunciations.”

Anna, who communicated with the BBC only by email, now spends most of her free time reporting people for “discrediting the Russian army”.

Since new censorship laws were introduced in February 2022, offences carry a fine of up to 50,000 roubles ($560; £450) or up to five years’ imprisonment if committed more than twice.

Anna admits she receives frequent death threats but says her motives are two-fold; to help Russia defeat Ukraine and to provide financial stability.

She said: “All those who oppose the special military operation are rivals of my own wellbeing. I could lose all my savings.”

Anna is thought to have reported anthropologist Aleksandra Arkhipova, who is now in exile after being labelled a foreign agent in May, seven times.

A teacher in Moscow called Tatiana Chervenko says she was fired because of denunciations against her at the hands of Anna..

Anna keeps a database of people she has reported and keeps tally of what happens as a result.

She proudly claims that six people have fired from their jobs and 15 others issued administrative charges and fined as a result of her.

Some believe that snitches like Anna are using denunciations to settle personal scores.

Russian police say they have been inundated with denunciations since the war began which is time consuming and costly.

“People are always looking for an excuse to denounce someone over the ‘special military operation’,” a recently retired police officer told the BBC, “Whenever something real comes up, there’s nobody to investigate. Everyone’s gone to check on some grandma who saw a curtain that looked like the Ukrainian flag.”

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