For a while, I was trying to write something which would make sense, but it did not work. Several times, I started writing something like, “I can’t understand why some people think.” But there are too many things that I can’t understand. I am very sorry for all my friends in Russia who lived in an emotional hell for many years but especially for the past seven months. But for those who were saying that “it’s not so straightforward,” or for those who all this time pretended that “life goes as usual,” I do not have any words of sorrow. Why just now? Why all these cries about “not letting them go”?
I am not talking about those who decided “to defend the Motherland.” I still do not understand why these people think that their country is equal to the current government, and there are many other things I do not understand.
It was a very difficult day for me because I lost it at some point and allowed myself to worry about the situation, about how many lives would have to be lost until we see the blue sky again. My presentation went well, but I was hiding for most of the day from other social activities.
I will try to be social for this night, though. Most of my peers do not understand how I feel. And they are under no obligations. I know there are many sorrows in the world.
I wrote this post yesterday and forgot to post it. I am not pretending I didn’t suspect what was going to happen, but still, what happened today, didn’t happen yet….
A very disturbing thing happened when I went through the border control in Helsinki on my way back. First, I was happy to see they now have the same machines as in London, where you can scan your chipped passport. Then I saw that I still had to present the passport to the officer. On my way back, I never ever encountered any questions. This time, the office started to scroll through my passport pages and asked me which countries I had visited and whether I was in Russia. Just to be clear, since I am a naturalized citizen, my country of origin is indicated in my US passport, but still!
The office kept scrolling, found the stamps from 2019, and looked at me inquisitively. I said – I haven’t been there since 2019. He kept scrolling and finally said: good; I see your entrance stamp. Because if you visited Russia at that time, we would have to question you (and he waved in an unspecified direction).
It was very disturbing but understandable. I know I have my share of guilt with everything happening, and it’s in Finland where I feel it even more.
And since I am posting it today, not yesterday, I want to reiterate – we stand with Ukraine! I saw these flags in the Southern part of State Street, quite unexpectedly:
Today, Russian State Duma changed the penal code to increase penalties for conscripts dodging draft, put in penalties for willingly surrendering to the enemy and reviving Soviet-era penalties against “marauding” (while also adding what would count as extenuating circumstances, which includes participating in the armed conflicts). And there are also supposed to be referenda on joining the Russian Federation in separatist-controlled parts of Donesk and Luhansk oblasti (the self-proclaimed People’s Republics), as well as the Ukrainian territories Russia occupied since the start of the war. The logic seems to be that, if Ukraine continues its advance, they would be attacking Russian territories, which would justify putting the country on war footing and partial mobilization. (As many people, including some pro-war commentators, have pointed out, the Russian Federation simply doesn’t have the infrastructure and the personal for the full-scale, World War II style national mobilization – then again, I can’t entirely rule out the Russian government trying it anyway).
The whole thing is flimsy as hell – but again, so is a lot of the spin coming out of Russian state media.
I can’t even remotely describe how happy I am with the development the war is taking at the moment. I am afraid to jink it, but God, how great it feels!
And how happy it makes me feel that I know that my “two cents” are a part of this development! I know it was more symbolic than anything else that I wanted to give money to the defense of Ukraine in addition to the humanitarian relief, but still, it feels incredibly good.
And also… it is historically funny how the language of the Russian propaganda these days not even resembles but cites the old Soviet-times play The Dragon by Eugeny Schwartz.
And this year, the only way to help Ukraine to celebrate is to donate. Every month, I give money to organizations that provide humanitarian assistance, but today, I am donating to the Ukrainian military.
Please join me in helping those who fight for freedom! Donate here.
Boris went to Saint-Petersburg again. The main (and almost the only) reason for this trip was the dissertation defense of his post-grad. This student is going to emigrate from Russia, so it was vital to have all the paperwork (he won’t be able to receive his diploma for several months, but at least Bors did whatever he could).
Boris was surprised to find out that it was very difficult to get the tickets on the bus. Remember that his bus is now almost the sole mean of communication between Russia and the rest of the world. We still could not figure out, however, why all of a sudden the demand had grown so much.
Today, when Boris returned back to Helsinki, the first thing he told me was, “now, I know why there are no tickets available.” Most of the seats on the bus were occupied by families clearly heading to their vacation destinations, with huge luggage, wearing sunhats and shorts. After he complained about mothers screaming at their children, I asked: ok, what’s your problem with this? Screaming Russian mothers are, unfortunately, a very familiar site. He said: It’s not right! It’s not right that they continue to live like nothing is happening!
I could not agree more. That’s why I support Zelinsky’s call to Western governments to completely ban Russian tourists. And I do not want to hear anything about “those who are innocent.” Not everybody can take out to the streets. Not everybody can take a risk of arrest, and not everybody can accept the possibility of being fired. But there is one thing that an honest person can do: not allow themself to live life as if nothing happens.
I saw this video on my friend’s blog, a horrific video showcasing the worst cases of ignorance. I can’t comprehend it: I feel my guilt all the time, even though I never voted for Putin. How come people in this video do not?!
Yesterday, Boris and I talked about the current war situation. I am so desperate that everybody (meaning – all countries) says they are standing with Ukraine and for Ukraine, and at the same time, barely doing anything. All this is multiplied by the natural gas situation and calls for “peace first.” And I was so mad about these statements from Russian officials about the Odesa port: yes, that was us, and we are going to continue. And yes, we are committed to the grain agreements, but we will still shell the port and fire at the ships and the warehouses, and we do not care a bit about the UN Secretary and anybody else.
We talked about why it all happens and whether the gas dependency is the only reason. Boris said that yes, but also, there are other things which we do not see and the politicians can’t talk about, like there is a constant string pulling by the spies on both sides. He mentioned a couple of episodes from the Soviet Union times spy wars, which he knew from his father. The moral of these stories is that there are likely other reasons why the Western countries are not pushing hard enough.
And back to the gas supply. Just to think that Russia receives at least the same amount of money for gas from the Western countries as these countries use to support Ukraine… I can’t wrap my head around this, and when I think about it, I feel helpless and hopeless. Every morning, I wake up with the hope that a miracle happened, and every day, I repeat the words of one of my Ukrainian friends: this day will come, just not as soon as both you and I would like it to come…
Today, one more time, a person who has known me for a long time, but does not talk to me too often, asked me “how am I” other than “lots of work.” I told him: there is a war in my life; it is here, it does not go away, and it will never go away from my life until it will be actually over.
That’s how I am, and although most news sources moved the war in Ukraine to the second tier of coverage, I didn’t move it there.
That’s why I was so happy that Igor’s article about the war in the Wednesday Journal made it to the front page of the Opinion section. I hope that enough people will see it – here is it.
In the past couple of days, my optimism about the development at the war front started to return partially because there was some good news, partially because I could see some panic in the ranks of pro-war bloggers.
At the same time, I was deeply saddened by some conversations I had with my Russian friends. All of them are against the war. All of them say that they feel endless shame and disgust with the actions of the Russian government and pain a sorrow for the sufferings of the people of Ukraine.
But that’s where the similarities end. The are two ways they think about “how this can end.” One – Russia will become a complete outcast in the world, a country completely isolated from civilization, and will stay like this for long, maybe forever. And another way – Russia will be destroyed and disappear from the earth’s surface, “and we deserve it.”
s I mentioned before, I firmly believe that only the defeat in this war might give Russia a chance to come back as a new country, a defeat as profound as Nazi Germany in WWII. But with my friends, such a defeat is either a tragedy or “it won’t be enough, it won’t change the people.
Both make me sad, and I do not know what to do with it…