Russian rapper Ivan Vitalievich Petunin, who used the stage name “walkie,” was found dead on Friday after jumping from his high-rise apartment building. The 27-year-old performer from Krasnodar left behind a video on his Telegram account in which he described his views on the conflict in Ukraine.
A report from 93.ru, a Russian-language news site, reported on the death of the young rapper, describing how he feared that Putin’s partial mobilization of troops could ultimately become a full mobilization. Petunin reportedly feared that he would be drafted to fight in the war, despite having no military experience — although some Russian soldiers have already confirmed that many of those being sent to Ukraine have not even received basic training.
What He Said
In a video clip shared on Telegram, Petunin said that he could not kill for “ideals.”
“If you are watching this video, then I am no longer alive,” the rapper says.
“I can’t take the sin of murder on my soul and I don’t want to. I am not ready to kill for any ideals. To murder someone in war or otherwise is something I cannot do.”
The rapper had previously served in the Russian Armed Forces, as is required for all young men aged between 18 and 27, and reportedly hated the experience.
In the video, he also slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “maniac” and predicted that the partial mobilization will become a full mobilization within just a matter of days.
“Forgive me, my loved ones, but sometimes you have to die for your principles. My last decision is exactly how I die,” he said.
While the young man could have attempted to avoid the draft, as almost 200,000 Russians have already done by fleeing to neighboring states like Finland, Kazakhstan, and Georgia, it’s unlikely he would have been able to easily escape. The Russian Armed Forces have reportedly begun establishing makeshift conscription centers close to the border checkpoints in an effort to intercept the young men fleeing the country.
Had Petunin been drafted and then eventually chosen to abandon his fellow soldiers on the battlefield, he would have faced a prison term of up to 10 years and perhaps ill treatment from the Russian forces he would have abandoned on the field.
Young Men Go To Extreme Lengths to Avoid War
Since Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization of his troops, reports have revealed just how far young Russian men will go to avoid being deployed to a warzone where the defending forces have the upper hand.
One report from last week describes a video being circulated on Russian social media that shows a Russian reservist and a friend attempting to break his arm with a sledgehammer so that he can’t be deployed to Ukraine.
The graphic footage shows the soldier’s friend raising the hammer into the air and slamming it as hard as he can on his arm. The soldier covers his face with a cloth using his other arms. At the end of the clip, the soldier can be seen walking away with a limp arm, swearing as he leaves.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.