When the war in Syria broke out, he “got interested” and began reading forums and watching videos online, trying to understand what was going on. He set off for Egypt, where he studied Islam and tried to gain more information on life in Syria.
It was there that he received the contact details of the man who recruited him to IS to fight in Syria.
“I was given a phone number of a person who could help me to get to Syria. He assured me that those who came could leave at any time and no one would be kept there,” Balakshin told RT.
Wanting to see the situation with his own eyes, and with assurances that Muslims lived peacefully in Syria, he left behind his wife and two children in Russia and headed for the Arab Republic.