He Said He Was Proud to Be Ukrainian

Petersburg shop teacher Gennady Tychina. Photo: Arina Vasilchuk/Novaya Gazeta

Policemen armed with machine guns came to shop teacher Gennady Tychina’s class at School No. 109 in Petersburg’s Primorsky District.

They took the teacher to a police precinct, where they held him for over forty-eight hours. A few days earlier, the school’s headmaster had urged Tychina to resign voluntarily. There was only one reason for this, according to Tychina: in a conversation with another school employee, he had said that he was proud to be Ukrainian.

Tychina started working at School No. 109 in August 2019. He had not received a single reprimand in three years. In early February, he had started doing the paperwork to apply for a first category teacher’s license, but had not yet managed to send the application to the Education Development Center.

On March 1, Tychina told a school security guard that he was proud of his Ukrainian background. He did not say a word about the “special operation” [i.e., Russia’s invasion of Ukraine].

“After this conversation, the school administration began to put pressure on me. I was told that I [needed to quit because] I was propagandizing the children. I oppose the “special operation,” and that’s what I said when I was first called into the headmaster’s office. But as a teacher within the walls of the school, I am not on anyone’s side. And I don’t discuss politics with my students.”

Gennady Tychina’s written complaint about being pressured to resign, dated 4 March 2022

The school’s acting headmaster, former physical education teacher Alexei Tatarnikov, demanded that Tychina resign. Tychina then wrote a complaint about the pressure from the school administration. The complaint was even countersigned in the school’s office. The date was March 4th.

The next day, three people came to Tychina’s shop classroom: the headmaster and two policemen armed with machine guns. They had come to detain Tychina.

“If the headmaster had been in his right mind, he would have knocked and said, ‘Gennady Nikolayevich, come out into the hall.’ And then he would have explained to the children that Gennady Nikolayevich was busy and now they would have a different class. So that they wouldn’t have had to see anything,” the teacher sighs. “There were fifth-graders in the class. They were shocked. And the director said to them, ‘Come on, come on, come out.’ It was like being in a camp.”

School No. 109 in Petersburg’s Primorsky Distrist. Photo: social media/Novaya Gazeta

“Gennady reached out to me as soon as they started forcing him to resign,” says lawyer Sergei Bulavsky. “I gave him advice. Then he called again and explained that the concept had changed [sic]: he had been taken to a police precinct, the 35th. His shoelaces had been removed and his belt taken away, and he had been put in a holding cell with a wooden bench. He couldn’t sleep or do anything else. But he was allowed care packages with food and drink. He was held for over forty-eight hours, although this is against the rules. Apparently, they wanted to ripen him up, to make him burst into tears and confess. Finally, he was taken to the Primorsky District Court. After a few hours, it transpired that there were glaring discrepancies in the charge sheet. It said that [Tychina] had used obscene language in public and was thus, allegedly, guilty of petty disorderly conduct. But he was detained at his workplace, right in the classroom. They had to let him go until more coherent charges are filed. So now we are waiting for a summons.”

Almost all of Tychina’s belongings remained at the school, including the keys to his apartment; he stayed with friends for several days. He was afraid to go to the school after his release, so Bulavsky went instead. Tychina’s belongings were given to the lawyer only after the power of attorney was issued. Bulavsky was asked to take Tychina’s work record book [trudovaya knizhka], but he refused to take it: Tychina’s dismissal will be challenged in court.

When asked what he wants to do next, Tychina answers unequivocally: to teach.

“I’m good at teaching, the kids love me. It’s not likely to work out for me at this school: I’m not going to go back there and look like a maniac. But I want to fight to have this dismissal rescinded.”

Tychina’s shop classroom at School No. 103. Photo courtesy of Gennady Tychina

Tychina’s pupils still do not know why he suddenly disappeared. They even telephoned him to ask him personally. He answered half-truthfully: he was still on sick leave. He does not know yet what he will tell them after March 23, when his sick leave, due to the case of neuralgia he got during his stay at the police precinct, ends.

The security guard, whose conversation with Tychina sparked his problems at work, neither confirmed nor denied Tychina’s story. After your correspondent asked him her first question, the guard summoned the acting headmaster. As Tatarnikov explained, “We are going to trial now. That is why we can’t say anything.”

Source: Arina Vasilchuk, Novaya Gazeta, 25 March 2022. Thanks to ES and SP for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

One thought on “He Said He Was Proud to Be Ukrainian

  1. First Putin’s pack came for Nemstov, and I did not speak out—because I did not know him.

    Then they came for the journalists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a journalist.

    Then they came for Navalny, and I did not speak out—because they always let him go again.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    My take on the quote by Martin Niemöller, the German seminary who was an admirer of Hitler & the Third Reich until the day he found out his phone had been tapped by the Gestapo,(German Secret State Police) after that he decided not to stay silent any longer about the wrongs they were inflicting on the Jews. He felt so guilty for staying quiet for so long & saying nothing about their cruelty. That’s how his quote came about. & that’s how I see Russia today, them calling with a (Z) till there is no one left.

    PS. Story above is chilling in the year of our Lord, 2022.

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