Russian dissidents attend the February 24, 2023 Ukrainian rally

The video about the Russian dissidents, most of whom recent arrivals, attending the February 24 rally at Chicago’s iconic Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church. The original version of the video has been up for a while, but writing the English subtitles and getting it uploaded took a while longer.

And, as a bit of a bonus, the subtitled version of the video Chicago dissidents put together about the rallies that took place across the world on February 24-25, including the February 25 Chicago rally.

(Because of some of the Discourse taking place in the dissident groups, I want to point out that when I say “Russian” I mean citizens of the Russian Federation. Russia is a multi-ethnic country, which over a 100 ethnic groups calling the county home – but while Russian language has separate words for Russian citizens and ethnic Russians specifically, that distinction gets lost in English).

What’s Going On In Chicago

That was the counter-protest I blogged about last week.

Unfortunately, this website is not showing in the EU, so I had to go to the VPN to see it. For those who are in the US, here is a link:

And copying the whole thing here so that my friends outside the US could see it as well.

Anti-war coalition rallies 20 years after Iraq invasion: ‘Fund the people’s needs, not the war machine’

ANSWER Coalition

An anti-war coalition rallies outside of the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago. The group said the United States should be trying to lead peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia — not sending military aid to Ukraine. Photo credit Brandon Ison

 By Brandon Ison

WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

2 hours ago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — With temperatures in the teens and an added chill from the breeze, dozens of people from several local anti-war groups gathered in front of the Wrigley Building Saturday.

“They say, ‘More war;’ we say, ‘No war,’” protesters chanted.

The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition was formed in the days after the 9/11 attacks and initiated an anti-war movement in the months leading up to March 18, 2003. Twenty years later, Emil Mitchell was among the speakers representing the ANSWER Coalition in Chicago.

“There’s a war machine out there, and we all know it’s funded with trillions of dollars, but here at the ANSWER Coalition, all of our groups, we are building a peace machine that will end war for good,” he said. “It will take all of us.”

The rally was one of several nationwide demonstrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War invasion.

Mitchell said the U.S. government claims there’s not enough money for schools, healthcare, housing, wages, or climate change.

Anti-war protesters

“They say, ‘More war;’ we say, ‘No war,’” protesters chanted outside of the Wrigley Building on Saturday. Photo credit Brandon Ison

“Yet they find almost $1 trillion for war every war,” he said. “That’s why we demand that they must fund the people’s needs — not the war machine.”

To Mitchell, and others at the anti-war demonstration, this would include a stop to military aid in Ukraine. A counterpoint on Saturday came from someone who may seem like an unlikely source: Anastasia Voronova, a Russian who came to the United States four years ago to study.

Voronova told WBBM that it’s not safe for her to return to Russia with her firm held belief in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty. She was part of a two-person counterprotest to the anti-war rally, Russian-born Igor Studenkov joining her. He said the situation in Ukraine would be much worse without global support.

Pro-Ukrainian protesters

Igor Studenkov (L) and Anastasia Voronova showed up to counterprotest Saturday’s anti-war rally. Studenkov said lasting peace in Ukraine will be impossible without Russian troops leaving the country, detained Ukrainians being freed and a trial for those accused of war crimes. Photo credit Brandon Ison

“Ukraine is being invaded, and it needs help,” he said. “The sooner they can get help, the sooner this war can be over, the sooner Ukrainian cities can stop being bombed, and the sooner — hopefully — that all the people who had to flee will be able to go home.”

Studenkov said Mitchell’s groups should direct their anger at Russian president Vladimir Putin, and he added that Ukraine should receive all the help it can get.

“We believe that any lasting peace in Ukraine is impossible without Russian troops getting out of Ukraine, without all of the detained Ukrainian civilians being freed, without all the people accused of war crimes being tried before an international tribunal,” Studenkov said.

And About “That” Oscar

Regarding the “Navalny” documentary receiving Oscar – I want to scream! I don’t understand how people can’t understand! And I do not know what to say.

Now, when I am in Europe again, when I hear and feel the worries of the residents of Finland, and when I worry about the situation at the front (and my only hope is that there is something we do not know going on and that something is better than what we see), I understand it even less.

I said it multiple times, and I can repeat it again: knowing enough about Putin, I do not like this Navalny situation at all. Through the years, I learned that the only opposition we see is the opposition Putin allows to be seen. And based on that observation, I do not like this whole Navalny case. I might be paranoid or whatever you say, but I strongly feel that Navalny is a “backup plan.” Even if it is not, having Navalny won’t be any better than having Putin, and one more time, I don’t understand why people don’t understand…

Also, having all this stupid “calls for peace,” and calls for “stop funding the war,” I feel even worse about it.

And One More

Even though I already wrote several blogs in relation to the one-year Russian invasion, there are still a couple of things I wanted to mention.

The first thing is about the dominating mood of the anti-war protests. A year ago, these protests had a distinct mood of endless grief. When I blogged about the rallies a year ago, I mentioned that it was the first time in my life that I participated in the rallies, and they were not energizing. Usually, when you protest, you feel empowered by the people who are protesting with you, and you feel like you make your voice heard. In the wake of the war, the mood was completely different: pain and sorrow dominated, and the sense of eternal loss was in the air.

It was different this year. The mood was: we know what to do, and we’ll raise our voices so that the people in charge will hear us. The was way more offense and way more energy. Which is good. Once again, I hope that we made at least some difference.

And the second thought I had was prompted by the Facebook post of my friend. On February 24, marking this grim anniversary, she blogged about “many things that didn’t happen” because the war started.

As for me, I feel differently. The start of the war was not a volcano eruption that took human lives suddenly and unexpectedly. Although the war, indeed, ended lots of innocent people’s lives, it was not a force of nature. It uncovered the confrontation between Russia and the rest of the world, which many people didn’t want to see. Many people, including myself and Boris, tried to support some positive things we could see here and there and refused to see the uncontrolled destructive power behind the facade. So I’d say – yes, there were many things that didn’t happen because the war started. But it’s in some sense good that they didn’t happen because all of the illusions are gone.

I felt something similar (although of a very different nature) about the pandemic. In some weird way, I didn’t want it not to happen. It ruined all my plans for 2020, but I learned so many things about people, their relationships, about what is important and what is not that I would not ever trade this experience for blissful ignorance.

When the war started, it became impossible to pretend that “things are not that bad.”


Yesterday, I was browsing my Russian social media feed. I am not doing it consistently, but there are still several people about whom I care deeply. lthough they read this blog using Google translate, if they post something, it will be in Russian, ad that’s a primary reason I check this feed periodically.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you can’t perfectly filter your feed (which might not be so bad because this way, you do not lose touch with reality). Anyway, I am going through the feed, and I see a repost from “somebody” who is anti-aggression – antu-putin-glory-to-Ukraine et al., and they publish a satire about Putin looking for his “historical roots” while visiting Africa. It is extremely difficult for me to describe this piece, but I have to, so please forgive me.

This satire goes to the effect that he feels at home with African tribe chiefs, and he strips himself naked and puts a ring in his nose, and dances with them around the bonfire, and now he has a legit right to eat human flesh, and that’s where his real place is. I was sick to my stomach by the time I finished reading, and jumped to the comments.I started to type something about “how you can insult African nations in such a way, but then I realized that the reader would take it as a joke! I looked through all the comments which were posted by that time, and there was not a single one noticing how wrong this whole thing is! All comments were like: That’s excellent, perfect, yes, that’s the right place for him! And nobody, NOBODY….


Several posts in drafts and too many things going on. Just this one thought I wanted to post today. I am shocked not only by the Dnipro horrible war crime but also by the reactions of many people in Russia. There was only one person who messaged me with a normal (at least what I believe is normal) reaction. And I know there are several other people who think the same way, even though they didn’t message me. But these people are inminority.

I Can’t Stop Thinking About It

That is – about people in Russia who are not just silent but actively and voluntarily support the aggression. And I know that those of my friends who stay sane amongst this insanity are as horrified as me, only, unlike me, they have to live to face this insanity every day.

And once again, I can’t stop thinking about where I would be if… I recall the conversations I had with my friends sometime in 1980 or 81. I think I already mentioned that, and I want to repeat it again: at that time, most of us didn’t have good feelings toward Jews who were emigrating. We thought that they were cowards and wanted the easy life, and didn’t think about the consequences of their departure for those who stayed (the latter was true).

I was in love with L. (he liked me but didn’t love me and gently tried to push me away), and his family obtained the vise and were getting ready to go to Israel. L. didn’t want to go. He was eighteen and told us he would rather stay and go to Afghanistan than join the Israeli army.

I clearly remember that that’s what he said, and that’s what we all thought, and we hated his parents for not understanding such an obvious thing.

What was I thinking? What all of us were thinking? When I shared these horrific memories with Boris, he said that at least the Soviets didn’t launch missiles against Afghans. OK, they used other weapons. But that’s why I kept thinking: what was wrong with me? And those few Russian people who understand – I really admire them because I have no idea how they managed to stay human, and I am afraid I would not measure up if I were there.

There are people who understand that standing for your country’s independence is not an act of war and that Russia initiated the war, not the other way around, but there are so few of them!

That Is My Alma Mater. That WAS.

I am shocked by this news. I guess I should not be shocked because Boris told me multiple times about the situation at our university. The one that used to be THE University.

Hopefully, my non-Russian-speaking friends will use Google translate to read the article above in its entirety, but to give a quick summary, it tells about the hackathon, which was organized by Wagner with the goal of finding solutions for drones without GPS. The first-place winners are the students of Saint Petersburg State University, who previously graduated from one of the top specialized high schools (fortunately not my school, but that’s not a consolation).

And they are saying that it was fun to participate because it was an interesting problem to work on and whatever else…

Again, not like something unexpected, but truly disgusting.

And Let This Stay Here As Well

Also, I wanted to embed Putin’s address to the Russian people just so that it would sit here and be a reminder, but I didn’t come right away with any video with English subtitles, so I am leaving this link here.

One more thing I want next year to happen: I want this one to be the last Putin New Year address!!!

…and also, I want to be able to have the tag “ukraine” without the tag “war”.

All I Want For Christmas…

I am getting more and more disappointed in Russian society. I can’t believe I am saying this. I always used to say that the country has potential and healthy forces. Whenever others told me that nothing good would ever come out of Russia, I would always argue and remind others how much society has changed in 1991/92. I still have a lot of newspaper clippings from that time. I remember how we were hungry but hopeful and open to new ideas. I remember how in 1996, none of us, recent arrivals to the US, planned to stay here forever. We talked about going back and bringing back with us all the knowledge, all the new ways of doing things that we learned. I thought … well, does it matter what I thought back then?! 

I am shocked to find an imperial mindset in many people I thought were completely normal, intelligent, and understanding. The most frustrating thing is that these people do not understand that they have this problem. The level of entitlement is skyrocketing. I am horrified that I never paid enough attention to that and never noticed the level of this ignorance in the people surrounding me. 

Last weekend, Anna and I talked a lot about that. (This recording of Chervona Kalina I posted a couple of days ago was made during our conversation – there was a lot of singing). For many years, I told Anna that most of the Russian political opposition is not that much better than Putin and that being against Putin is not enough to be a decent person. Now she said she realized that. The opposition is continuous frustration and disappointment. Why do they feel OK behaving like a Big Brother when they come to other countries? Why do they believe that opposing Putin entitles them to some special treatment? Anna told me that at the beginning of the war, she thought that although Ukrainians are wholly entitled to say as harsh words about Russians as they want, they are indeed too harsh. But now, she says, she has concluded that the Ukrainians were right from the beginning. And that’s how I feel, as well. 

I can’t believe that even now, many people who once again seemed to be completely normal complain about the inability to travel to Europe as if it’s the worst thing in the world. There are a few of my very long-time friends who are not like this, but so few!

As for us, we feel the weight of collective guilt, and it’s more than just a word for me. There were many facts that I chose to ignore, not pay attention to, and not analyze. I have already said multiple times that I am not sure where I would be if I didn’t immigrate. I was thinking about myself thirty years ago, and I can’t be certain I would be on the right side of history. That’s why the blame is on me, and I can’t imagine people going around with their holiday activities without Ukraine in the background. 

I know that all I want for Christmas is a victory for Ukraine. Not peace, but victory.