Yesterday, my Ukrainian friend texted me. We had spent a lot of time together -- he’d helped us integrate into society when we lived in Kharkiv, one of my favorite cities, which doesn’t exist anymore. The biggest market in Europe doesn’t exist. University buildings, schools, hospitals, houses don’t exist. Thousands of people…arms, legs, faces don’t exist. My friend asked me what I felt about what was happening. I answered that none of my feelings could be compared to what he was feeling. To what his mother and grandmother-- sitting in another country, mourning their friends and acquaintances -- who had lost their home and whose homeland was being stolen from them, were feeling.

When I was still in Moscow, one of my colleagues asked me, “What are you going to do if you’re called up to the army?”. Summoning all my rage, I answered, “Obviously I’ll go shoot unarmed people near Chernigov! Cause everything that I’ve done in life, everything I’ve dreamed about, was only for this -- to shoot grandmas and children.” I do realize that there are people in my country who really would shoot grandmas and children. That there are people who calmly stick the letter Z on their chest [note: symbol used by Russian forces in Ukraine] and throw their palms skyward [note: Nazi salute]. That there are people who can and do continue to live their normal lives, complaining about the unfairness of their new hardships. That there are my parents, who have the TV on from morning till night, who dream about the return of the Soviet Union by any means necessary because back then they were beautiful: poor, but happy.

I replied to my friend in Ukrainian. And he texted me in Ukrainian too, though we had always talked in Russian, because this makes us both feel protected now. What do I feel? I don’t feel anything, only wish every single day that everyone would be saved, that everyone would survive, that no one would die. That no one would be forced to drink piss, be thrown in jail, abused in interrogation rooms, labeled a traitor, get a Z spray painted on their door. This is why many take the first flight out without thinking-- in order to not live in Pinochet’s Chile, in Ceaușescu’s Romania, in Franco’s Spain, Videla’s Argentina…I can continue the list. For 20 years, people lived in that Russia that existed before. Lived in hope and action to change her through their hard work, honesty, integrity, amiability, and sense of justice. She [that Russia] is still out there - I am proud of every single one of my countrymen who continue to be honest and good in the core of the Axis of Evil.

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Russia started the war against Ukraine. This war is happening from 2014. It has only intensified on February 24th 2022. Milions of Ukrainians are suffering. The perpetrators of this must be brought to justice for their crimes.

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