Secretive anti-Kremlin blogger with 1.5million online followers reveals his identity as a wheelchair-bound Russian trader after police raid his parents’ home
- Blogger StalinGulag revealed himself as Alexander Gorbunov, born in 1992
- Gorbunov has 300,000 followers on Telegram and over a million on Twitter
- He said he revealed his identity out of fear after police raided his parents’ home
- He has used a wheelchair for most of his life because of spinal muscular atrophy
- New Russian legislation prohibited individuals to spread news about officials
- Alexei Navalny has defined him ‘the most important political columnist in Russia’
A secretive anti-Kremlin blogger behind popular social media accounts mocking the Kremlin and life in modern Russia has revealed his identity after years of speculation.
Known for his wit, StalinGulag has more than 300,000 followers on Telegram and over a million on Twitter.
This week, the blogger revealed himself as Alexander Gorbunov, born in 1992 in the North Caucasus city of Makhachkala.
Gorbunov, who lives in Moscow with his wife and has been a successful financial trader since the age of 13, said he has decided to reveal his identity out of fear of reprisals for his family, after police in Makhachkala raided his parents’ home.
Alexander Gorbunov, born in 1992 in the North Caucasus city of Makhachkala, revealed himself as the author behind famous social media channels StalinGulag
‘I am StalinGulag and I am no longer anonymous,’ Gorbunov posted on Twitter, linking to an interview he gave to the BBC Russian service.
The interview showed the blogger in a wheelchair, which he said he has used for most of his life, after being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.
He set up StalinGulag as an anonymous Twitter account in 2013 and he joined Telegram in 2016.
He said he created the accounts to point out the absurdities of life in his country.
‘I just wanted to write,’ he told the BBC.
‘My computer and the internet meant I could follow what was going on in the rest of the world… I’ve always been interested in politics.’
‘The blog wasn’t some thought-out project. It all happened purely by accident,’ he said.
‘There are situations when it is simply impossible to stay silent, when it is impossible not to say that crazy things are happening.’
The blogger, pictured, said he decided to reveal his identity out of fear of reprisals for his family, after police raided his parents’ home
Recently, he pointed out on Twitter that Russian television channels were giving coverage to a presidential election debate in Ukraine.
‘This is how much our political system has degraded – it is more interesting to watch elections in a foreign country than to even hope that someday we will have something similar,’ he wrote.
In 2017, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a critic of Vladimir Putin, defined the blogger ‘the most important political columnist in Russia’.
In recent years Russian authorities have tried to block online sites posting critical content, including Telegram, an encrypted messenger app which allows users to create group channels and share their content to an unlimited number of followers.
The app has become popular especially in countries such as Russia and Iran, where freedom of speech is restricted.
Gorbunov said he chose the name StalinGulag as ‘a form of trolling’ and to call out the parallels between Stalin’s era and modern Russia.
‘The people in power want us to think that they are scary and terrifying like the [Stalin-era] secret police,’ he said.
By 2017, StalinGulag was one of the most popular Telegram channels in Russia.
Gorbunov kept his identity protected for a long time.
When RBC TV published a story linking Alexander Gorbunov’s identity to the account last year, StalinGulag denied the claims.
Gorbunov created StalinGulag as an anonymous Twitter account in 2013 and has kept his identity hidden for several years
New Russian legislation in March prohibited individuals to spread ‘fake news’ and any information insulting state officials.
Police have not been in touch with Gorbunov so far, but he said he is not worried.
‘I’m not afraid for myself,’ he told the BBC.
‘They can’t take any measures to restrict me, because I’ve been living with restrictions all my life.’
‘Nothing has changed,’ he added.
‘I’m going to carry on writing the way I always have.’
Alexander Gorbunov’s most anti-Kremlin posts
- Kim Jong-un’s limo arrived in Vladivostok. It was brought from Pyongyang on an Il-76 cargo plane. To allow the North Korean dictator to travel in his limo, a wall was torn down at Vladivostok railway station. Everyday life in a superpower
- ‘For the sake of Kim Jong Eun’s arrival in Vladivostok more than 23 thousand students of the Far Eastern Federal University canceled five-day classes’ You know, for a chubby dictator to close Harvard, for example? Because somewhere people are citizens, and somewhere just cattle
- Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova says Russians will stop drinking when they find interesting work and hobbies. In other words: we’ll never stop drinking
- ‘Around 40% of Russians don’t have any savings’ – it would be great to invent another tax, because someone still has some savings
- A military coup in Sudan. Hooray, there’s something that can use up billions from the Russian budget again – otherwise the money will just rot in Saratov, for lack of anything to spend it on
- ‘Large winemakers in Crimea can suspend production for several months due to lack of bottles’ Joke about the fact that all the bottles are busy
- ‘The Federation Council has approved the draft law on the autonomous internet’ Now Putin will also sign the law and the Pisdariki all our Internet. We will only go to classmates and then, after we get the permission and stand the line for the Talonchik in the nearest post office
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