Putin’s obsession with the mysterious armored train cost him dearly. What happened to a Russian photographer at the beginning of the war

For Mikhail Korodko, A “The Train Spotter” For a lifetime, an unusual train on Russian railways has become an obsession, like a hunter with a rare species in his sights. Specifically, Putin’s train. With the start of the war, passion cost him dearly. The young man fled the country and now lives in exile.

However, it is known that the Russian president is very cautious when it comes to the security of photo EPA-EFE.

Mikhail Korodkov, 31, has spent years tracking and photographing President Vladimir Putin’s luxury armored train. He was the first activist to post a picture of the train online in 2018, the report said. The Washington Post.

SimpleIt isHumans don’t travel in such a train”Korodkov wrote in the post’s title.

How terrifying it was to track and photograph the train. For Korodko, it looked like one “Ghost Train”:
With a creepy, cryptic timetable, locomotive numbers are unrecognizable and its windows are always closed. At least one carriage has an unusual cupola, which is believed to house special communication equipment.

I was like that caught My hobby. I tried to take very rare pictures. On that dayFor me, the challenge is so great that I don’t think about the consequences.”Korodkov recalled in an interview.

But the Russian president is known to be very cautious when it comes to security.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Putin established a “Disinfectant Tunnel” Especially using aerosol cleaners and ultraviolet light to disinfect visitors. At times, Putin seemed to be in solitary confinement for weeks at a time.

During the pandemic, Korodkov and his colleagues, members of a community dedicated to training enthusiasts, noticed a sharp increase in the use of the presidential train.

He is in a mad rushAnd all other scheduled trains make way for him”The photographer wrote on his blog in 2021.

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After the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin seemed to use it even more, making the train a hot topic of interest for Russian intelligence agencies.

According to the London-based Dozier Center, Putin has increasingly used the train since 2021 because it is more difficult than flying.

Independent Russian media outlet Proekt reported last month that secret stations and connecting lines were built in locations frequented by Putin, including Novo Okaryovo (outside Moscow) in 2015, Sochi in 2017 and Valdai in 2019.

How the photographer’s interest in trains was born

Russia’s metro and train stations are some of the most beautiful in the world, but Korodko’s focus has always been on trains, a love since childhood, when his parents bought him a toy train.

Growing up in Tedovsk, a small town west of Moscow, she started her blog “Railroad Life” With the tagline “On the Railroad with Love” In his second year of university, he didn’t even have a personal computer.

In an interview, Korodkov said that he put a lot of soul into his blog, which he would describe as, “An enormous, difficult job”.

The young man goes on long bike rides or hikes in the countryside, looks for interesting trains and planes, and makes friends with field dogs. At home, his small rodent, named Baranga, was waiting for him.

In the footsteps of Putin’s train

The Trainspotters community in Russia is a small but passionate one. Whenever Putin’s special train left Moscow, people there with whom Korodkov shared his entertainment, he rushed to the tracks with his camera.

He took several photos of Putin’s train, but posted only a few online.

I tried not to notice that I was very interested in the subject.”He added that it was the peak of his hobby.

The young man admitted that he could not imagine a bigger goal.

His passion cost him dearly

Korodko’s interest was not appreciated by the special services tasked with protecting Putin and his secrets.

In May 2021, strange news appeared on Korodko’s YouTube page: verbatim transcripts of private phone conversations between him and his close friend and fellow train spotter Vladimir, about a trip the two were planning. About Vladimir’s daughter and more.

“When I saw those conversations in my comments, it was horrifying.”he said.

The only explanation he could find was that he was being watched by the Federal Security Service, or FSP. He interpreted the messages as a warning, an attempt to stop him.

I thought about my personal security and realized that from that moment everything I published on the Internet could be used against me.added the young man.

The fruits of his 11 years of hard work turned to ashes.

I told my parents that my life was in danger.The photographer recalled in an interview.

For Korodko, 2022 will be a difficult year. The day Russia invaded Ukraine, he woke up in his apartment to the sound of breaking glass and the smell of smoke. At the same time as the Russian attack, a fire broke out in a neighboring apartment.

The invasion shocked him. He said he tried to avoid getting into arguments with his supportive parents. He spent restless nights watching war news on his phone without sleep. Tired and distracted, he said he left the house without locking the door, forgot to give groceries at the store, and once left a kettle on the stove and came close to starting a fire.

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He feared that his train spotting posts could be used to imprison him on charges of sabotage or terrorism.

In March last year, he shut down the blog “Security
to do personal”. However, his concern grew as the wartime Kremlin became more repressive.

Life without a blog, in the midst of war

Without the blog, he felt as if he had lost the anchor of his life. He focused on his two jobs: financial analyst and part-time physics teacher.

    Michael Korodkov, a young photographer with a passion for railroad Washington Post trains

Michael Korodkov, a young photographer with a passion for railroad Washington Post trains

He went to concerts and fairs and took walks in the park to balance the beauty of life with the horrors of wartime. The death of his little hamster in August left him depressed.

Then, Putin’s military mobilization in September shook him so much that he decided to leave Russia, rejecting his parents’ pleas to stay. Korodkov stated his philosophy “Love all and live for all”.

He left Moscow – not by train, but by car – and drove to Kazakhstan. The photographer had already crossed the border when two summonses for military service arrived at his two addresses. From there he went to India for a few months.

“My whole life packed into one bag: laptop, passport, documents, mobile phone”He said.

Currently, Lives near a beach in Sri LankaOrganizing online IT training courses for a Russian company.

I miss my familyEThis is the only thing I have left in Russia.”The young man added.

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