For the past two days, Russian mainstream, Muslim, and social media have been abuzz with the news that a popular 31-year-old Russian actor has been reported killed fighting alongside IS militants in Syria.
According to the reports, Vadim Dorofeyev, who apparently converted to Islam in January 2014, left his wife and two small children without warning several months ago in order to go to Syria and join the Islamic State (IS) group.
Dorofeyev appeared in a handful of Russian films and TV series, including A Yakuza's Daughter Never Cries, a 2010 comedy about the 10-year-old daughter of a Japanese Yakuza who gets lost in Russia. Dorofeyev's last work, before leaving for Syria, was a part on 2014 TV detective series Balabol.
No details of Dorofeyev's conversion to a radical form of Islam have been given, beyond that it appears to have happened in January 2014, several months before he left for Syria and that he apparently converted along with another actor, his friend Leonid Telezhinsky.
Russian news website Komsomolskaya Pravda reported on January 25 that Dorofeyev's 24-year-old wife, Yelena, had raised the alarm about her husband's sudden disappearance and said he was in Syria.
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, Yelena sent a number of letters to TV stations asking for help.
In one undated message, according to Komsomolskaya Pravda, Yelena wrote that her husband had "been taken to Syria to the war."
"I am writing to you out of despair. I never thought I would do this. I have gone to the police everywhere...to the Foreign Ministry.... I will tell you briefly. My husband, the actor Vadim Gennadevich Dorofeyev, got involved with very bad people, and as a result he converted to Islam in January 2014. Together with his friend Leonid Telezhinsky (he is also an actor) he tried to persuade me to convert to Islam and bring the children to Syria. His goal was a war for God.... Now I understand that they zombified him," Komsomolskaya Pravda quoted Yelena as saying.
According to the message from Yelena, on September 16 Dorofeyev sent her a message to say he was out with friends. He later said his phone had poor reception. The next morning, Yelena said she got a message to say that Dorofeyev had "gone to Syria, if Allah wills it, forever."
Yelena reportedly got news that Dorofeyev had died on December 20, 2014. This date of death is also recorded by Russian cinema website KinoPoisk. Other reports give Dorofeyev's wife's name as Alena and say that she received a photograph confirming Dorofeyev's death.
Fans of Dorofeyev's work have left comments on the actor's fan page on the Russian social-networking site VKontakte. Some of the comments asked questions about Dorofeyev's motives, while others expressed anger and sadness. A few expressed anti-Islamic sentiments, while others said that the IS group did not follow Islam.
"I can't imagine anything more idiotic and naive than going to fight with jihadists in Syria. Vadim [Dorofeyev] was a very insecure man and wanted to prove something to someone," one commenter wrote.
Another commenter, Tair Sadixov, wrote that the IS's group were "Wahhabis" and did not follow true Islam.
"This is Wahhabism. Unfortunately, it masquerades under the name of Islam, i.e. Sunni [Islam]," Sadixov wrote, adding that this brand of extremism was "sponsored by America."
One pro-IS commenter posted an image of Dorofeyev praising his "martyrdom" with a quote from the Koran: ""And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: 'They are dead.' Nay, they are living...." The quote is frequently used by IS militants to justify "martyrdom" in the group's ranks.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk