ATHENS – With the ongoing war following the Russian invasion of Ukraine constantly occupying the thoughts of the international community, The National Herald reached out to Russians living in Greece to hear their own views on what is happening. After many refused to comment, TNH shares the following:
Svetlana Golovatseva, a Russian woman from Crimea who has been living in Greece for 20 years, noted that “I’m Russian and I’m not ashamed of it, although it is a strong tendency to deny it, either because of fears of global bullying or because it is synonymous with some policy decisions that we are not responsible for.”
Then, among other things, she said: “I will not express my opinion on the facts because I believe that we are all victims of misinformation. I also believe that all politicians, Americans, Europeans, Russians, Ukrainians, are responsible. I believe that we all deserve better leaders who will not sacrifice the lives of people on the altar of power and money. I feel indescribable pain for what is happening and I pray that this absurdity we live in ends… yesterday.”
Golovatseva, in addition, said: “For a month now, my children, who are as much Russian as Greek, have been coming home from school anxious ‘mom, the teacher told us, there will be a war with Russia’ for a month now, when Putin didn’t even know what would happen… and the teacher who says it is not even a history teacher, she had no idea that Crimea was not always Ukraine… And as soon as the war was announced, the same day she (my daughter) heard from some classmates – ‘You are Russian! You should die! Let all the Russians die! We are with the Ukrainians!’”
“I do not want to comment on anything else. I teach Russian and Greek – the two richest languages in the world. I want to believe that we will soon remember it as a nightmare. The key is to keep our humanity inside us and love,” she concluded.
On the other hand, Jason Bibos, married to a Russian woman and president of the Greek-Russian Association of Ioannina in a particularly emotionally charged telephone interview, stood by the fraternal ties that unite the two peoples, if nothing else. He even explained that his wife is from Russia and her grandmother is from Ukraine, giving a concrete example of the interconnected family relations between Russians and Ukrainians. He also said that they have many Ukrainian friends.
The two states, as he pointed out, are separated only administratively, while “consciously, emotionally, and as family” they are one. No one is happy with what is happening, he added. Referring to the war in Ukraine, Bibos said: “I believe it will deescalate soon, the two sides will work things out” and wished everything goes well. His emotion was evident throughout and at the end of our interview.
Of course, at this point, it is worth noting, as mentioned above, that the Russians who said “no” to our call for comment on the situation in Ukraine were not outnumbered by those with the most aggressive reactions. There were many who argued that this was a particularly sensitive issue on which they would not like to express a public opinion.
Apart from that, however, there were others who were more negative, even aggressive when we approached them. The main narrative of the latter was to blame the West for wrong political choices, but also to distort reality and misinform the world. In this spirit, they expressed their complete reluctance to speak further.
Indicative, in this case, was the reaction of a Russian doctor, working in a public hospital in Athens, who, following our request for comment, refused to express his opinion, saying that we want him to tell us what we want, that is, to present a distorted version of the truth. In the context of our brief communication, the man of Russian origin, addressing us, pointed out: “But you do not know what has been happening in Ukraine all these years.”