July 01, 2024

Brothers by Blood, if Nothing Else


Brothers by Blood, if Nothing Else
A jail cell. The RussianLife files

A recent piece in the independent news outlet People of Baikal (Lyudi Baikala) profiles the winding paths of a pair of brothers: Ildar and Anton Batrakov.

Now both in their thirties, Ildar and Anton started life together: with absent parents, they were raised by an abusive grandmother in Russia's Chuvash Republic. Eventually, they found their way into a local orphanage, where they spent much of their childhood.

By the 2010s, however, foreign families expressed interest in adopting children from the orphanage. Anton was adopted by an American family in St. Louis, but Ildar chose to stay.

On aging out of the orphanage, Ildar began professional training. However, he murdered two women, among other crimes, and was sent to a penal colony.

Anton, however, later returned to Russia and starred in popular reality TV show "Dom-2," gaining fame in the process. He eventually returned to the U.S. and started a family.

Ildar, ironically, found some respite with the start of Russia's War in Ukraine. As a convict, he was able to join up with Wagner PMC in return for a shortened sentence. However, he was injured and discharged. Today he walks on crutches and has a difficult time finding a job.

Anton lives in the U.S., but his family life is far from rosy: with divorce proceedings underway, he's also yearning to go to the frontline.

Through it all, the brothers have maintained contact, despite their divergent paths.

Is the tale of these brothers an indictment of Russia's institutions? A testament to fate? Or something else entirely? Make up your mind by reading the piece yourself, here (in Russian, but Google will be happy to translate it into something neighboring English for you).

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