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Russians’ puzzled question

Nowadays, during the Russian Federation’s full-scale war against Ukraine, we are witnessing an extremely curious phenomenon: the Russians are very much surprised by the sanctions which have affected their daily lives, as well as by the words of hatred which are addressed to them on the net. They endlessly ask "Why we? What for?" Indeed, in the minds of people who have nothing to do with choosing their own destiny and have not chosen their own president and other officials for the past 22 years, these disparate puzzles of reality do not add up. They constantly ask questions about what they, Russians, could do, and how it is possible to make at least some claims against Russian society, because "people themselves are hostages and victims of the regime", and "harsh words are offensive to tears".

In fact, this only proves once again that we have been completely dehumanized for the Russians for a long time, including so called groups of "people with good faces" - after all, in their opinion, their tears of offence are much more important than our tears caused by death loved ones. In their opinion, their tears are more significant and dearer than tears of our children. Their mental trauma is worse than our physical possibility of dying under Russian bombing at any moment. After all, in their opinion, we are not hurt. We are built differently.

Photo: EPA/UPG
Right now some Russians are actively changing tactics and trying to present themselves as "not so Russian", they are even ready to help Ukrainians with their humanitarian needs in order to save their reputation. This is especially true for those near-opposition Russians who either live abroad on a permanent basis, but work in the Russian cultural space, or those who live in several countries. These Russians do not hesitate to raise funds for humanitarian needs of Ukrainians, initiate new "humanitarian projects", not forgetting to remind everyone that they have nothing to do with Russia, that they stand apart from Putin and his regime, and allegedly far-sightedly say that "after all once we will have to restore relations, and these are the first steps towards reconciliation". These Russians are not even ashamed to go to Ukrainian embassies abroad with their "humanitarian projects." This is exactly what Marat Gelman did in Montenegro: he offered to coordinate assistance to refugees from Ukraine and to organize an exhibition of Ukrainian artists, not forgetting to take a photo with the Ambassador of Ukraine in this country for his social networks.

The question about Gelman is still open, he is the person who did not see any problem to return to Russia in 2020, because by that time there had been changes in the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation that guaranteed his safety: Vyacheslav Volodin was replaced by Sergei Kiriyenko. It is the Mr Kiriyenko, whose mayoral campaign was supported by Marat Gelman and Gleb Pavlovsky through their "Effective Politics Fund" in 1999. 

It does not seem possible to believe in the good intentions of the character with such a background, especially if he publicly shows off his help and involves the Ukrainian embassy in this. Furthemore, from the very beginning the entire current campaign to popularize works of Ukrainian artists was declared by Gelman as an action aimed at the possibility of "to restore relations with Ukrainians when the war is over." In the local media there are already headlines "Art beyond borders and war" about the exhibition organized by Marat Gelman. 

But all this pathos is irrelevant for Ukraine here and now. It is irrelevant because Ukrainians defend their borders with blood and sweat and demand the territory integrity and inviolability of state borders. It is not possible to talk about “restoring relations” when missiles are flying over Ukraine and when maternity and children’s hospitals are shelled in our country, and the Russian Foreign Minister claims that all this is still not an attack on Ukraine, but an attempt to “respond to a threat to their own security”.

Photo: EPA/UPG

“Not so Russians” abroad must decide what they really want: to help Ukraine or whitewash themselves and achieve good publicity. If the goal is to help Ukraine, it makes sense to help organizations that already exist in Ukraine that help the Ukrainian army and other forces involved in the defense of our country, for example, through the Сome Back Alive Foundation. At the benefactor's request, their personal data may not be disclosed, and it is quite possible to transfer money for organizational needs if it is not possible to donate protective equipment for people fighting for Ukraine. And if the task is to "save face" and leave a good impression about yourself in the host country, Ukrainian embassies will not be suitable for this. 

Our diplomatic institutions are not a platform for Russian PR. Especially now, when we have finally severed diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation and when the whole country refuses to cooperate with the Russians in all spheres and appeals to the whole world to do the same. Inviting Russian experts to various international platforms is not a presentation of an alternative point of view, but precipitation of Russian propaganda and attempts to exclude guilt from individual Russian experts/analysts/public figures.

Ukraine will do everything to make sure that Russian war criminals are held accountable for everything they have done; held accountable on the battlefield right now, held accountable in the courts, held accountable for crimes against the Ukrainian people everywhere in the world.

Photo: EPA/UPG

To distance oneself from Putin's Russia through an attempt to "establish a dialogue with Ukrainians" will not work right now. To start a dialogue, it is necessary to stop hostilities, to admit the guilt, moreover, the collective guilt for conciliation and permission given to Putin to do everything that he has done to us for the past eight years and the last weeks, to pay reparations. Prior to this, dialogue is possible only on existing negotiation platforms and on the battlefield.

​Maria Kucherenko​Maria Kucherenko, Analyst of Come Back Alive Foundation
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