Ilyas Nikitin can’t catch a break. On Monday, Russia’s mass media circulated his photograph, reporting (falsely, it turns out) that he was the primary suspect in the bombing that killed 14 people in the St. Petersburg subway. When he heard the news, Nikitin rushed to the nearest police station and explained his innocence.
The next day, now in Moscow, he was removed from an airplane headed to Orenburg, following complaints by terrified passengers, who saw his picture in the media, and refused to believe that the reports were inaccurate.
The latest blow came on Wednesday, when Nikitin lost his job. According to the website Islam News, his boss in Nizhnevartovsk told him that he’d been let go, at the request of local state investigators.
Raised in Bashkortostan, a Russian region tucked between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains, Nikitin graduated from the Ryazan Military Academy, and served with Russia’s armed forces in Chechnya. Now a reserve army captain, he works as a truck driver.
“Reporters — who just called me a terrorist — have hounded me, my family, and my friends. As a result, now I can’t even board an airplane. I’m begging you please to stop chasing after me. Just let me live in peace,” Nikitin told Islam News.