Relationship with all my relatives are warm... Well, at least it was so before the war started.

I am a software developer, mostly backend. I use C#, Java, Kotlin. My professional life was quite long — I worked as a manager and a business analyst, but in essence I am still the same programmer, who graduated from the institute about 20 years ago. As you can easily calculate, I am a bit over forty, was born in Leningrad, grew up in Ufa, then about eight years ago my wife and I decided to try to move to St. Petersburg. Given that we were moving with three children, it was not easy.

My family is more or less friendly, at least compared to what I've seen — relationship with all my relatives are warm... Well, at least it was so before the war started. Now I prefer not to discuss the war with them. My parents are doctors, now retired, my brother and his wife are also doctors. Life is quiet enough — I concentrate on my wife and children and try to do everything to make their lives as comfortable as possible. Despite the fact that I am a developer, I don't rake the money, but we managed to pay off the mortgage in Ufa — after the sale we had enough for the first payment to settle down in St. Petersburg. We started saving, getting our kids' teeth done, and travelling.

I love my family and miss them — the war started exactly when the family applied for an international passport.

It is very sad to think of the country's perspectives — of course, the economy will not collapse, but it will become very, very uncomfortable to live there.

I was planning to come for my son's birthday, but...

When the war began, I sat staring at the wall for three days and lamented “why and for what reason”. Most of my acquaintances were just like that, I must say. With relatives... Well, I didn't ask them thoroughly, just in case. It's always easy to quarrel. If we were in the same city, of course, we would meet and discuss, but now I'm in Prague, they're in Ufa... It's not a good idea to argue over the phone. My wife and children are strongly against [the war], of course, they gave me a lot of support — who else could we share this with?

The biggest fear of the first two weeks, of course, was that the borders would be closed and we wouldn't know when we would see each other. I was planning to be there on my son's birthday, but... Now it's not clear — the Czech Republic has closed the embassies, it's not clear how to do the reunion.

All those I keep in touch with are also against the war, they have sympathy for the fact that we are now divided in two countries. Yes, I removed some of the people with the slogans “Russia is building its state” from the social networks, but, fortunately, there were few of them. Either I am unsociable or I pick people well — I don't know.

We were doing everything by law to move my family to Czechia, and here we go again

The most unclear thing is how to live further. Initially the plan was to go to Europe for a year or two, to look around, travel, and decide to either go back or do something else. At first everything was going fine — I got a work visa in the Czech Republic, then I arrived, rented an apartment, started saving for the reunification (I left all the spare money to my wife). And now — neither here nor there. On the one hand, it is clear that in Russia, I'm not going to Russia until the power is changed twice, but on the other hand — the closed sky does not let me take out my family by direct flight, logistics have become more complicated (you have to fly through Istanbul, for example, which is twice as expensive), and the closed Embassy of the Czech Republic does not issue visas. It was so frustrating we could cry — everything was done legally, everything as it should be, the cat was vaccinated and chipped, and here we go again.

I wanted to visit my son on his birthday, but I couldn't make it. I definitely won't make it to my eldest daughter's, but maybe if everything goes well and they really resume accepting documents, as it is said, at least for the new year they will be able to come to me. But the chances are slim, too. Most likely I won't see them for a year.

We were thinking about leaving everything and going to Serbia/Montenegro/Georgia and other countries. But we're not planning a vacation, but a full-scale relocation. It is possible to take the family out of Russia, but then the money will be drained at double speed. We have enough money, but we won't be able to save anything, and we would have spent all our savings — and for family reunification according to the law of the Czech Republic we have to show that we have the annual allowance for an adult in our bank account. That's more than 100 thousand crowns now, and we are a 4-person household, by the way. So we decided to take the risk, and now they are in Russia... and I am here waiting. It hurts, it's uncomfortable. Everybody suffers because of one person's ambition.

However, we have to keep the apartment, pay the mortgage. Because of the sanctions, it is not easy to transfer money, so I have to do some work as a freelancer for Russia to be able to pay the mortgage and at least have something left for food. A lot of problems, of course. Okay, friends understand that it is not good to live between two countries, they promised to take care of it. But in comparison with many people, I'm doing quite well — I have a working visa until October, the rent is affordable, I can make a budget with my salary, and plan the arrival of my family from Russia. Speaking of weak points — it is unclear when and whether in general the Czech Republic will open the consulates back. Will applications for family reunification be accepted for consideration? How long it will take to be considered. How long the queues will be. Lots of questions.

We hope that our family will be together again

At work and everywhere else people say reassuring things like “we're against Putin, and the Russians are great guys,” but I feel that we still have to make excuses if not for ourselves, then for the others, and it never fades. But in general, of course, we are optimistic. The Czech Republic is a beautiful country, I really want to live here longer, with my family. But if the situation is not resolved by the end of the year, I will probably have to look for a job in a country where I can bring my wife and children. Otherwise, what's the point of all this?

I wish exit visas would not be introduced in Russia, otherwise it would be very, very painful. Right now, what I want most of all is for family reunification visas to be equated to humanitarian visas and documents to start being accepted. The Czechs I know at work were very surprised that this is not like that — so I wish it was true and they would start issuing these visas. I assume that this is not just my personal problem: not so long ago there was an initiative group gathered on this subject, consulted with lawyers — so many people have similar difficulties. Some have a husband/wife in Russia, some have elderly relatives, some have LGBT family (what to do in this situation is an even more obscure story). I hope that including "reunification" in the list of humanitarian reasons is enough, but it would probably be better if this type of visa — “on family reunification” — was clearly spelled out in the rules, to avoid sorting out the details.

I have decided that if the visa situation is not resolved by the end of 2022 at the latest, I will seriously look for a job in another country where I can reunite with my family. Of course, that's the latest date — too many things can change my decision, sadly. It would be a pity to leave Prague, a very beautiful and interesting city, but, unfortunately, my family's interest will prevail.

I fell more lucky than others

I am more lucky than many others: I have a place to live, a job, a salary, friends, and my family in Russia is not in need either. No one helped me directly these days, and I didn't ask for help, since I wasn't that desperate. Sure, friends offered to help with money, something else, but it's not necessary, we manage. It's a shame that not everyone can say that.

My advice to other people in the same situation is not to despair. The war situation in Europe itself is so bizarre that it was rather difficult to predict, I think. I did not believe to the last minute that Russia would take this step. In Nassim Taleb's terminology, it's a classic “black swan”.

War is an ugly thing

War is an ugly thing, and it must be stopped. That's what I'd like to bring to everyone's attention. Thanks to the Czech Republic for systematically pursuing the rhetoric of separating the Russians from the dictator.

I have only one wish: let my family come to the Czech Republic. We will do the rest ourselves, we love to work and we know how to do it.

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