“I can no longer understand my parents who are in Donbass.” Divided families

Of Lorenzo Cremonesi

Olga’s mother and father always regretted their youth and trips to the Crimea. Today they justify Putin and the bombing of their own family

FROM OUR REPRESENT KIEV Un evening at the end of February, Olga discovered that her mother Svetlana was inciting Putin’s soldiers to bomb her, her husband and their two children in the bunker under the house in the northern suburbs of the capital. She says: «I have always known that my mom and dad stay incurable nostalgics of their youth in the great Soviet Russia. As a child they showed me photos of their trips to the Crimea with groups of young Communist pioneers. In the bedroom they had never removed Stalin’s photo from the bedside table, not even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But, honestly, I never thought they could applaud that same bloody dictator who now shoots his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. Since then we rarely call each other and only to find out how we are, but we absolutely do not touch any political or news topic. Once we did it and I immediately cut off the communication in tears ».

We meet Olga with her husband Dimitri Kornienko as they queue at the supermarket not far from their home. Around us dozens of soldiers and volunteers are reinforcing the barricades that surround the beginning of the Vialone della Vittoria, a strategic point of the city, since from here the Russian tanks would have easy access to the center. They are both in their forties, the eldest son is 14, the girl 6. While the two of them are away from home, the children take turns looking after the neighbors. «There is a new and strong solidarity among the Ukrainians under the siege of Putin. In our building a committee of condominiums is in charge of managing the food and water reserves in the collective bunker. Unfortunately, there is no generator, if the electricity were cut, we would all be left in the cold and dark ”, explains Olga.

But he immediately adds: «When I tell my mother these things, she replies that I should go to them, near the borders of the Donbass. And my dad adds that we don’t have to worry too much. It will end soon anyway. Putin simply wants to eliminate some fascist nationalists for our own good. It says just like that: for our good! Obviously they didn’t understand anything. But they don’t change their minds, it would be like destroying the universe in which they were born and raised ».

Dimitri’s parents also seem to have the same ideas. “My father in 2014 tried to come and live in Kiev, he was about fifty years old, but he did not know how to adapt to our globalized culture, he wrote by hand, he rejected the computer and the Internet. Two years later they both returned to Donetsk, where they now go to the post office personally to collect their pensions, just like our grandparents did over half a century ago, ”he says. According to him, only 10-15 percent of Ukrainians support Putin’s aggression with their eyes closed. And in general they are elderly, small marginal groups unable to fit into the modernity connected to the Western world.

However, the impression is that the vast majority of Ukrainians of Russian origin are aligned with the rest of the population in condemning Putin’s move without a shadow of a doubt.


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