How a weird blogger and anti-vaccinationist in the occupied southern Ukrainian region of Cherson became deputy governor by the grace of Russia. The Story of a Wryneck.
Kirill Stremoussov’s YouTube high-altitude flight lasted a week: Ever since the blogger from Cherson officially asked the Russian President Vladimir Putin in the first week of May to annex his city and the surrounding area to the Russian Federation, his channel has been besieged. Now the US-Ukrainian conspiracy has struck, as Stremousov would say, and his cute do-it-yourself videos are gone. The man in his mid-forties had around 80,000 subscribers in May; some of his films have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, but many only 2000 times.
Stremoussow helped his new position. The Russians promoted the city councilor, elected in 2020, to deputy governor in the first few days after invading Ukraine. The area that borders the Crimean peninsula, which Russia had annexed in 2014, fell quickly.
When fighting was still going on in the center of Kherson, Stremusov showed himself in a short video blog with his young son in a spacious new apartment. “We’re safe, don’t worry,” he told his fans. The father was fooling around with the baby in red pajamas, the mother could be heard in the background. Family idyll with a pro-Russian activist who had gone into hiding somewhere, unclear whether in Crimea or in Moscow. “Just wait and see what happens! Take good care of yourselves!” advised Kirill Stremoussow, then still gaunt.
Just ten weeks later, Stremoussov was looking oddly puffy into his camera, praising Russia’s celebrations of May 9’s victory over Hitler’s fascists in World War II. As a viewer, one had the feeling that the blogger had been pumped full of psychotropic drugs.
As recently as February 25, on day two of the alleged “liberation” of the Kherson region from the “Ukrainian fascists,” Stremusov showed a different face as he drove through the city for his YouTube fans. “Look, there are no Russian flags hanging here,” explained the blogger behind the wheel, “because this is Ukraine.” He may be an opposition figure, a bitter enemy of Volodymyr Zelensky, but Kherson is in Ukraine, Stremusov said at the time. What has happened since then?
In the meantime, Ukrainian state television is broadcasting two other short videos of Stremoussov. In one, he is sitting at the table in a red, white and blue T-shirt with the Russian double-headed eagle and repeatedly protests that he has not betrayed anyone.
On the other one sees Stremoussov under a portrait of Putin. On March 17, Ukrainian prosecutors charged him with treason. The day before, the Kyiv-critical blogger had presented himself to the Russian media as chairman of the local “Rescue Committee for Peace and Order”. He is now deputy governor by Putin’s grace and far more visible than the nominal number one.