As we approach the end of the year, we found that 2022 still holds a few surprises for us. Last week, Vladimir Romanenko, who was Boris’s cellmate at the ICE detention center, was released at a day’s notice. Our team, which now includes Boris and Mariia, swung into action to bring him to Delaware County in two days’ time. His journey included a midnight arrival at LaGuardia airport, a breakfast in which Vladimir enjoyed his favorite beverage, tea, after 7 months (no tea in detention), and a dramatic dash in the pouring rain across New York City to rendezvous with Tianna Kennedy of the 607 CSA who drove him during Friday’s snowstorm to bring him up to our little safe haven. He was met there by more DCCRS friends and of course, more cups of tea! 

Vladimir’s asylum petition has been rejected, but he cannot be deported until the US re-opens the deportation program to Russia. In the days to come, we will be exploring his legal options for appeal, and helping him find a home in Delaware County.

Our immediate need is three-fold: short- or medium-term accommodations for Vladimir, financial contributions for his living expenses, and finally, a reliable but inexpensive car we can purchase for Boris who just passed his written drivers’ exam! If you can help with accommodations for Vladimir or have a car for sale, please email us as soon as possible. For financial contributions, you can either contribute to the GoFundMe we set up for Boris and Mariia, which will now include Vladimir, or send a check to DCCRS. If you want to do the latter, please email us for mailing instructions or hand it to your favorite DCCRS member.  

Here is an introduction to Vladimir, in his own words:

My name is Vladimir Romanenko. I am 36 years old and have lived for the last 12 years in the Republic of Chechnya in Russia. My wife Natasha and I have two young sons who are 5 and 4 years old. For the last five years I have run my own transportation business. In 2022 everything changed in Russia when the war began between Russia and Ukraine. The Putin-appointed head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, is known the world over to be a tyrant and criminal. (The US government has placed personal sanctions on Kadyrov and his family). In April, 2022 Kadyrovites (members of a paramilitary organization believed to be  Kadyrov’s private army) approached me and told me to volunteer to fight in the war against Ukraine or they would kill me. To reason with such people is impossible. They are known the world over as criminals who kill, kidnap and torture people. And in Russia they act completely outside the law because they are protected personally by Putin. 

I am against the war and believe it to be very wrong. I fled Russia and left everything behind, my wife, my small children, my work, my vehicles and home. I came to the United States as that was the only country where I could be safe (I couldn’t go to Europe because relations between Europe and Russia have been cut off). So I came via Mexico in a car and asked for asylum on May 1st of this year when I was seized at the border. Then on May 5th I was transferred to a Louisiana prison, where I remained for 7 months and 10 days. In prison I also had an immigration hearing, where I lost my case. Despite the entire world knowing of the war between Ukraine and Russia, the judge was not convinced I was in any danger and put me into deportation status. I am incredibly worried about my family. I couldn’t bring them with me because the route here is so dangerous, but I’m doing everything I can to help them and get them to a safe place.”

Boris, Mariia, and DCCRS will be hosting a tea party in the coming weeks to welcome Vladimir. In the meantime if you see him around, please do stop to say hello to Vladimir, and if you have a moment, you might ask to see photos and videos of his little boys. 

We end this year with hope that, with your help, we can continue our efforts to offer assistance to people fleeing injustice and tyranny everywhere. Thank you for choosing to stand with all of us.