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Mathematician from Ukraine hanged himself in Moscow: he was not allowed to leave Russia after the start of the war

On March 20, mathematician Konstantin Olmezov committed suicide in Moscow. Olmezov is from Donetsk, he moved to Russia to do science - he entered graduate school and became an assistant at the Department of Discrete Mathematics at MIPT. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Konstantin Olmezov attempted to leave the country. But in the end he ended up under administrative arrest, and after leaving the detention center he committed suicide, reports Meduza.

Photo: Shutterstock

In his suicide note, Konstantin wrote: "Unfreedom is worse for me than death."

"Hello. My name is Konstantin Olmezov, I am writing this text in my right mind and memory, and if you are reading it, then most likely I will never write anything again.

This is how the last series of posts in the Konstantin and Bukovki telegram channel begins. Previously, 26-year-old MIPT graduate student Konstantin Olmezov published his poems in it, but at nine in the morning on March 20, his suicide note appeared there.
Letters with the same content that day were received by some of Konstantin's acquaintances. According to his supervisor, mathematician Ilya Shkredov, who also became the addressee of the mailing list, only the "preamble" differed in them.

“I sent you a letter because I trust you. It's not personal." It was just such a phrase, - Shkredov retells the content of the letter. “But I would like this letter to be distributed to people who are interested, among my relatives and on social networks in case it is blocked or erased.”

Ilya Shkredov received a letter at one o'clock in the afternoon - it, the mathematician is sure, like the post in Olmezov's telegram channel, was sent automatically, with a delay. “I started crying,” Ilya says of his first reaction.
He tried to call the student, "wanting to warn his act," but he did not pick up the phone. They did not answer on the MIPT campus either (Konstantin lived in a hostel on its territory). “In the end, I got through to the administration of the Department of Discrete Mathematics,” recalls Ilya Shkredov. “They told me it was too late. That they have been there since eight in the morning in the hostel.”

"All the time it seemed to be rushing"

Konstantin Olmezov was born and raised in Donetsk. In the same place, at the Donetsk National Technical University, he studied to be a programmer and completed one course at the School of Data Analysis. Konstantin wrote poetry and played in the theater.
Konstantin Olmezov about Donetsk in his suicide note:

“I really love, albeit with a strange love, Donetsk. Despite the disgusting childhood, this is still the city where I wrote my first program, my first poem, went on stage for the first time, earned my first money. The city, in the center of which every shop and turn of the path in every park is saturated for me with some kind of rhyme, some kind of problem that I solved there, names, faces, pleasant and terrible events. Every corner of every track."

“There was a very active poetic movement in Donetsk before the war, all the creative youth knew each other,” says Artem Samoylenko, an old friend of Konstantin, explaining: “By the start of the war, we Donetsk people understand 2014.”

Since that time, Samoylenko continues, he rarely spoke with Olmezov: “We were very scattered.” He remembered Konstantin as a young man "short in stature, curly-haired, disheveled in every sense."

“He was all unrestrained, he walked all the time, as if he was rushing, as if he was driven by an awl somewhere,” Artem describes a friend. - And his poems were, on the contrary, restrained, from such a metaposition. He really liked fractals - this is mathematical drawing with formulas. He even seems to have a verse about fractals."

In 2016, after graduating from the university, Konstantin Olmezov moved to Kyiv.

Konstantin Olmezov about Kyiv in his suicide note:

“I love Kyiv very much - the city where I first found an independent life, I first experienced hunger and loneliness, I truly fell in love for the first time, I wrote my best poems. While there, at some point I wrote two verses in three days, as much as ever. Every bridge over the Rusanovsky Canal, every tree in the forest behind Lisovaya, every bench in Victory Park are saturated for me with their pain and their love.

After the move, Olmezov did not leave his passion for the theater. Artem Samoilenko recalls that in Kyiv they once played together in an amateur performance based on The Master and Margarita. Konstantin was assigned the role of entertainer Georges of Bengal.

In the theater, which "consisted mainly of refugees from Donetsk," Boris from Kiev also met Olmezov. “He was a very kind, modest, sincere, deep man. With a big universe in the soul and eyes,” he says about Konstantin. Together they played in the play "Eugene Onegin", Olmezov played the role of Lensky.

But in 2018, Konstantin Olmezov moved from Kyiv to Moscow to do science.

Konstantin Olmezov about Moscow in his suicide note:

“I love Moscow very much — the city where I first got on my feet, gained financial independence, where I proved my first and only theorems, where I truly believed in my strength for the first time. Where is Tsaritsyno!

There was nothing surprising in the fact that Konstantin left for Russia, his acquaintances say. “Russia has strong technical universities,” explains Artem Samoylenko. “I can’t know exactly his position, but it seems to me that for him science and art have always been above everything else.”

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Konstantin did not lose contact with Ukraine and Kiev after the move - for example, from time to time he came there and spoke with his poems at poetry evenings, as Boris says.

It was on one of these evenings that Boris saw Konstantin for the last time. “We talked to him,” he recalls. - He told me that he was engaged in scientific activities in the field of mathematics in your country. Since he lived there, it means not just like that, it means he had a reason for this.

Additive combinatorics and love

“Hello, Ilya Dmitrievich! I am not a fermatist, not a Riemannist, and not Ramanujan, there is no evidence of great hypotheses in this letter, but I am one of those who is not yet a mathematician, but wants to become one,” Konstantin Olmezov addressed the Russian mathematician Ilya Shkredov in April 2018.

Following Konstantin admitted that he dreams of doing additive and arithmetic combinatorics, and therefore asks the "chief specialist in this field" for advice - where "it is best to go for this."

“I am often treated like that,” says Ilya Shkredov. And he explains why, in his opinion, additive combinatorics attracts young people: “She is very beautiful, she is terribly beautiful! Problems in this science with simple formulations, but with very complex solutions. She surprises all the time. Such a science, where much is still incomprehensible, many secrets and much more can be done.

Konstantin Olmezov, as Shkredov later realized, also felt the beauty of this science.

From the suicide note of Konstantin Olmezov:

“I came to Russia in 2018 to do science. I came because I fell in love with a science that was not represented in Ukraine - additive combinatorics. Fell in love for real, crazy - like people fall in love with people. Spent nights and days with her. I was not too zealous in this love, my scientific successes are very modest, but there is just no contradiction in this, for in ordinary love my affairs are even worse.

The next two years, Olmezov studied with Shkredov in the magistracy. Then I went to see him at the Department of Discrete Mathematics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. There he soon began working as an assistant and laboratory assistant.

“For some reason, he immediately seemed very mature to me, although by age it was not so. I immediately began to include him in really serious things, ”says Ilya Shkredov about his student. She calls him "very talented".

Olmezov, says his supervisor, willingly took up the work, wrote three scientific articles ahead of schedule, which could “quite be enough for a Ph.D. thesis.” Konstantin not only understood the method that his teacher came up with, but also advanced in it. “For a year or two, he was immersed in this task and eventually succeeded,” says Ilya Shkredov. - He really opened the eyes of the mathematical community to this matter, which did a great service. Now I use his methods.

“After that, he solved a few more issues, but the next step, the last year or two, did not work out for him,” continues Shkredov. “Perhaps it had an effect. But this happens in science. A student, a graduate student, and a doctor can have difficulties at any stage. I tried to help him. Before the New Year, we talked about what we could do next.
The plans, according to Ilya Shkredov, were to jointly write a book on additive combinatorics. “Probably would have written,” he adds.

Unfreedom and two ways to deal with it

On February 26, on the third day of the war, Konstantin Olmezov tried to leave Russia. “It was an act somewhat stupid, but only to the extent that it was ill-conceived,” he later wrote. - I don’t regret it, but I only regret that I didn’t do it on the 23rd, when there were all the reasons for it. I went to defend my country Ukraine, to defend it from someone who wanted to take it from me.”

Olmezov planned to leave Russia by bus, but he was detained while boarding. And two days later he was arrested for 15 days under Article 20.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation - “petty hooliganism” - for allegedly violating public order at the bus station. Olmezov himself believed that the real reason was different.

“The reason for this, I think, is my bad tongue and one person with whom I rashly shared my plans,” Konstantin wrote in a suicide note. - Being arrested, I considered that my freedom was taken away forever, and I directly told the FSB everything that I think about what was happening. It was stupid, but it couldn't be otherwise. It was the last thing I could hit them with and I hit with all my might."

Ilya Shkredov did not immediately find out about the arrest of a student - he was informed about this at the department. “I immediately began to look for him,” says the mathematician. “They couldn’t find him, although they shoveled everything, all the special detention centers called. We thought he was in Sakharov, but he was in Sokolniki.”

“When he came out, he didn’t understand anything at all. He was isolated for 15 days and did not understand what was happening in the country, how far everything had gone,” continues Shkredov.

He decided to give Konstantin time and did not bother him for the next two days. But through acquaintances, he began to look for a place for his student in universities abroad. And soon he agreed to be invited to the Johann Radon Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics (RICAM) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

“I told him: Konstantin, you need to leave,” recalls Shkredov. - He thought more and agreed. He rejoiced. It was like he saw a way out. We also argued that this would be useful for his scientific life as well.”

Shkredov recalls that Olmezov was helped to prepare all the documents for the exit and, at the expense of a grant, they were given money for a ticket to Turkey.

“He was afraid of border control. We tried to reassure him that there were cases when, after administrative arrest, people crossed the border. Formally, he did not have a travel ban,” says Ilya. - We agreed that he would write or call from Istanbul. His last call was - he took a ticket and asked about the airport. He traveled little abroad, so he knew little. On this we parted, it was Saturday March 19th.

To make Konstantin calmer, his supervisor continues, they found a lawyer for him - Dmitry Zakhvatov.

“We agreed that escorting him to the airport makes no sense. That he will try to pass the border control on his own and if there are problems, I will come,” the lawyer wrote in his telegram channel. We agreed to be in touch.

On the evening of March 20, Zakhvatov told Meduza, Konstantin Olmezov was supposed to fly to Turkey. But by then he was already dead.

The idea of ​​suicide, Konstantin explained in his suicide note, occurred to him during administrative arrest. In the detention center, he, in his own words, "made at least ten suicide attempts in seven different ways." “The only thing I dreamed about while sitting there was to be released in order to be able to commit the last one, with normal chances of success (by the way, I still don’t understand why they released me after all),” Olmezov wrote.

“Lack of freedom is worse than death for me,” Konstantin wrote. “There are only two ways to fight unfreedom—repression and non-acceptance. Repression is if you freely choose how to live your whole life, and then you are locked up, and you start choosing which book to read while you are locked up. I can fight lack of freedom only by not accepting, by refusing to stay in the very situation of lack of freedom - if they prevent me from choosing how and where to live, I would simply prefer not to live.

“Specialists from the social and psychological support service spoke with Konstantin immediately after he was released from administrative arrest, his psychological state did not cause any concern, and he, in turn, convincingly assured that he did not need psychological help,” Meduza was told in a press release. - MIPT service. With other requests, including assistance in leaving Russia, the press service added, Olmezov did not apply to the administration of the institute.

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Meduza does not know where and when the funeral of Konstantin Olmezov will take place. His family has already arrived in Dolgoprudny, where the MIPT hostel is located and where Konstantin lived. The institute assured that she was receiving psychological and organizational assistance.

“The bones are gone,” his mother wrote on social media on the afternoon of March 20. — We went to Moscow to pick him up. Contact with us will be only tomorrow. In the telegram, enter the channel "Konstantin and letters", you will read everything there.

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