One of the most viewed TikTokers in the Russian language segment of this popular social media, Nekoglai, is now Putin's enemy, too.
Nekoglai (10.3 million followers on TikTok) has recorded a stream in which he says that he “will be an enemy of the Russian regime for the rest of his life” and will fight against it, BBC Russia reported. He promised to buy drones for the Ukrainian army, spending USD 100,000, and personally hand them over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
As Global Voices has written before, Nekoglai was tortured by the Moscow police. In August 2022 he recorded a parody video on TikTok of a Russian soldier throwing grenades into the air.
After that, he was detained for breaking the immigration regime (Nekoglai is the citizen of Moldova), his head was forcefully shaved, he was beaten and later deported to Moldova.
This is the first case when a TikToker formerly based in Russia is openly standing against the Russian regime and supporting Ukraine. After the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a lot of popular TikTokers emigrated from Russia due to restrictions posed by the platform. Many of them are now settled in Kazakhstan. However, the case of Nekoglai stands out as this formerly apolitical TikToker is taking a clear political stance.
Investigative outlet The Insider in December 2022 asked some Russian TikTokers to post “patriotic” content which included fake news about Ukraine. Some refused but others were eager to earn the money (The Insider offered around USD 150 for one video). None of the TikTokers mentioned in the article, however, had the number of followers close to Nekoglai's 10 million.
For example, they describe a conversation with Yuliya Pyatnitskaya, who only has 112,000 followers on the platform.
TikTok, in spite of restrictions on content imposed by the Chinese platform on Russian viewers and bloggers, is the second most popular social media in Russia. According to Mediascope, it attracts over 25 percent of Russians every day. Nekoglai's video parody of the Russian soldier has over 25 million views to date.