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Couple avoid meeting other Russians after fearing someone will come for them

Pavel Stotsko and Yevgeny Voitsekhovsky fled Russian earlier this year and found asylum in Amsterdam

2018-08-29

A married Russian couple refuse to speak to other Russians in fear someone will come for them.

Pavel Stotsko and Yevgeny Voitsekhovsky, both 28, fled Russia in January this year and as of this month, they are both legal residents of the Netherlands, Moscow Times reported.

Their marriage was widely reported as the first same-sex union to be recognised in Russia due to a legal loophole after they tied the knot in Copenhagen.

However, they started to receive death threats and police warned them that they couldn’t guarantee to protect them so the couple decided to flee.

After saying goodbye to their families, the Russian LGBT Network arranged for them to fly to Istanbul and the activist group urged them to request asylum in Amsterdam.

During the flight, they feared their lives as six men who sat in front of them kept watching them, they claim.

A stewardess let the couple disembark first and explained how to find the Dutch police.

They were transferred to a refuge centre, specifically where there were no Russian speakers who might give up their location.

Now the couple are safe in a new centre but still worry about someone finding out their location and contacting authorities in Russia.

They said: “We try not to talk anybody who speaks Russian who might be able to call home and say where we are.

“We don’t know who these men [on the plane] were. But we did feel that they were a threat to us.

“We decided right away that this is our country. It feeds us, shelters us, and we need to be thankful to it, integrate quickly and start paying back our debt.

“They are so open here and no one makes sure they heard you right when you say you’re gay. It makes me so happy to feel like I’m not abnormal.

“Of course, like all Russians, we had thought that one day we might leave. But of course, we never planned to have to do it this way.

“Those that criticized us, I understand it almost as jealousy in a way, because no one else had their marriage recognized in Russia before us.

“But after what happened, people wrote to us from all over Russia saying that we gave them hope. That they see some light at the end of the tunnel now.”