there once lived...
There once lived a man whose name was Zhenya. Zhenya was born in Yakutsk. His family moved to Surgut when he was young. Zhenya served in the airborne troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. He returned home with the Military Merit Medal. Once back from the military service, he started drinking heavily. He succeeded in getting a job in Surgutneftegaz but was fired soon after that. He left for Moscow spending his last money on that.
In his videos, Zhenya talked about the lifehacks for the homeless, i.e. where to wash, where to dress, how to go down the drain, how not to run into the police, etc. Zhenya would get invited to television, would get recognized by people, would be asked to take pictures with him, and would be given money. He became “the most popular homeless on the Internet” but was skeptical of his fame. In one of the videos, Zhenya said that he had some problems with his teeth. His subscribers raised money which was enough for him to pay for dental fillings.
Last autumn, Zhenya and his friends were kicked out of the basement, and they moved to live in a construction trailer. Zhenya fell sick there. A woman who distributed newspapers at the metro station and knew him well would bring him some medicines. Zhenya Yakut died of pneumonia. On October 29, his body was taken to one of the Moscow morgues. Andrey contacted his family. His mother and brother came to identify the body. According to their decision, Zhenya was cremated.
In Moscow, Zhenya got a job as a welder and electrician but he would spend all his money on alcohol immediately. At first he lived at his friends’ place, but it was embarrassing for him to incommode them for a long time. He left and started living on the street.
Zhenya would have spent his nights in shopping centers and stairwells. Then, one day, he moved to the basement of the building on Barrikadnaya Street along with other homeless people. He lost his documents but never intended to restore them. Once Zhenya met Andrey who suggested making a video blog. Together they came up with a Youtube channel of Zhenya Yakut which gathered nearly 80,000 subscribers.
Despite his popularity, Zhenya continued to live on the street. After being filmed by the First Channel, he would go to a dump to find some food or sell the things he found to migrant workers. He would sometimes make phone calls to his family, but did not want to return home saying that he had his own life. Andrey managed to persuade Zhenya to restore the documents in order to get a job. Together they filed a new passport application, and after that, they made a video in which Zhenya announced that the project was over.
This is a real story, not fiction.
It has been 11 years that at the end of every winter, a memorial service for homeless people who died on the street is held in Moscow. This year, 96 names were read out loud as part of this memorial service. And Zhenya’s name was among them. It is yet unknown how many homeless people actually die on the streets every year.
By returning to homeless and nameless people their names and destinies we are trying to change attitudes towards them.
Share this project with your friends, and there will be less stories like that.
Other story:
© 2017, Takie dela
nya43 years old
Zhenya Yakut is an Internet star. His subscribers say that he is a bit like Tsoi. Zhenya can solve any problem and quickly forgives an offense
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