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A Crimean woman living in Slovakia: why we shouldn't close borders for Russians

I know how Slovaks (even though I was very surprised by a recent poll about Slovaks' attitude to the war in Ukraine) and the rest of the civilized world feel about Russians. I have lived in Slovakia for about 15 years, my children are Slovaks. However, I am Crimean Russian by birth, I have many friends and close people in Crimea.

My hometown of Bakhchisaray in Crimea recently made the Ukrainian news, and from there to the world news via social networks. A video of wedding guests dancing to a Ukrainian song circulated on the internet. The reaction of the occupiers was the threat of criminal liability for all participants in the wedding, as well as the nationalization of their property. Yes, I call them occupiers despite the fact that I am Russian on my father's side, Ukrainian on my mother's side, and my native language is Russian, not Ukrainian.

But I also remember the freedom we experienced in the 90s and noughties. We watched Ukrainian, Russian and even Tatar news, danced to American, Indian and German songs and were entitled to our own opinions. Now my friends and relatives in Bakhchisaray think this is impossible. They live in a closed bubble, so much so that I won't be able to contact them anytime soon.

When a Russian is ashamed to be Russian

I know that the vast majority of Russians living in Russia are brainwashed, I have many friends there too, I studied in St. Petersburg. However, Russians living abroad are ashamed of what Putin and the Russian people along with him are doing in Ukraine. Behind everything is, again, my personal experience. I have a 10-year-old goddaughter. Her father has a Ukrainian passport, her mother is Russian. My goddaughter was born in Slovakia, but she has her mother's Russian passport. Her parents have not yet fulfilled all the conditions for Slovak citizenship.

In August I visited the Baltics with my goddaughter and my children. My goddaughter was ashamed and afraid to cross the border. She was hiding her Russian passport. I was very sorry that such a small soul, with not a shred of guilt about what is going on in the world, was so worried. However, she copes with the "burden" of being Russian, in my opinion, very courageously. She told me that she enjoys helping Ukrainian refugees at school with their Slovak language and tries to support them in their integration.

Who else should tell the truth to a Russian, if not a Russian?

On top of that, Putin announced a partial mobilization for many Russians. We didn't believe it could get any worse, even though it was supposed to be a logical step in a time of war. We kept hoping that it would somehow get better, that it would end, but no. Now we know that Putin is going further and dragging the entire Russian people into the abyss with him. We all know that the power of speech is the most powerful weapon, and that state-controlled propaganda is a weapon whose purpose is to eradicate everything but the "right" opinions from people's minds. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union provided very good experience and practice in this area, and so in Russia we can observe incredibly remarkable results of this ability. However, not everyone is brainwashed, and so we should not lump everyone together. But at the same time, we should not allow war crimes to be justified and the loss of life to be forgotten.

It seems to me that from every crisis and war there is a lesson for humanity. Unfortunately, war is often seen as a business whose goal is to make money. I would like to believe, however, that humanity will prevail over material interests and we will overcome the crisis of humanity, which, unfortunately, has occurred in our country. And who better to tell the truth to a Russian than a Russian. Therefore, I believe that we should support the fleeing Russians and not slam the door in their face.

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at