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War in Ukraine : The 24th of February, Day of National Shame

On the morning of February 24 I was awakened by a phone call: one of my Ukrainian friends was in shock at the news that was beginning to emerge. The first thing she said to me was "Did you hear what's happening?" Unfortunately I can't say I was surprised. Without even reading the news, I knew what she was talking about because I had been writing about the subject of the War in Ukraine on my blog since December 2021 and I had anticipated 8 to 10 that this War would happen. Besides, my Ukrainian friend wanted us to do an interview so that I could explain why I was sure that this War would take place, but events happened more quickly than we could organize…

She mainly called me to get my help. She knew that I had a degree in international law and she wanted me to help her get her family out of Ukraine. She wanted to know more about refugee law. Refugee law not being my specialty, I spent the morning looking for information to help her and her family.

In the evening after work, I went to the meeting which had been urgently organized at Place de la République in support of the Ukrainian people. That's when I started to understand what was happening on an emotional level and not just a rational one. Being there, surrounded by a terrified but brave people, under attack from an enemy but defiant to the end, I began to feel like I was covered in blood. As if Putin had soiled us all with this inhuman crime. I grew up convinced that there was no people closer to us than the Ukrainians. And now my people were killing theirs, and even though I wasn't directly responsible, I still felt ashamed of it. I looked at the Ukrainians around me, and I saw in them what I thought were the main characteristics of my own people: patriotism, honor, solidarity, humanity. I thought back to what had started that day: my people slaughtering and killing in fanaticism and madness. Like those fascists who once invaded our homeland in 1941. It all became clear, we were the new aggressors and they were the heroes we should have been. And at that moment, my life no longer had any meaning because the very fact of being Russian seemed to have changed in nature. Being Russian was no longer an honor but a kind of curse.

That evening I saw my friend. I felt the emotion rising in me. With a broken voice I told her that on behalf of the Russian people I was sorry. She replied that it was not my fault. And that's when my heart broke. Because I was on the contrary convinced that it was our fault, that we were all responsible. She and her family were attacked because of us, because of me. I then looked at the sky and burst into tears. She hugged me, and I felt this strange feeling that despite everything we were still friends. Attacked but strong in her compassion, she seemed tall. I, a member of a Nation now covered in fraternal blood, felt very small. I will tell later about this event during a Russian meeting against the War that this moment showed all the greatness and the honor of the Ukrainian people because even when attacked they showed compassion.

My professional project before the war was to work for the rapprochement of Europe and Russia (I recently graduated in international and economic law). But since February 24, 2022, I have worked tirelessly to atone for our faults by contributing to the downfall of Putin's regime. Acting politically has become an imperative. Because the end of the War will not be enough, we must ensure for the future that such a crime will not happen again. I participate in Russian anti-war associations and movements here in Paris. I won't stop. This struggle now defines my existence and my identity. For the fraternal and compassionate Greater Russia is not dead. It is in each of us. To give up the fight is to justify these criminals who currently govern Russia. The Russia I grew up with is still here, and it demands that I fight on all fronts so that it can finally become what it always should have been: a free and happy Russia. A peaceful, honorable and exemplary Russia.”

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