Podcast: Then & Now #11 – Teresa Cherfas in conversation with Aleksandra Ilkhovskaya and Svetlana Dokudovskaya

29 September 2023

by Teresa Cherfas

Welcome to the eleventh edition of our Russian-language podcast Then & Now with me, Teresa Cherfas. 

My guests today are two Parisians, Aleksandra Ilkhovskaya and Svetlana Dokudovskaya: Aleksandra [known to everyone as “Sanya]” has lived in Paris since she was six years old – her mother emigrated from Russia in 1991. She is married with two daughters. She is a primary school teacher with 10 years’ experience. Svetlana has lived with her French husband and their 13-year-old daughter in Paris for the past 17 years. She works as a cell biologist at the Gustave Roussy Institute, Europe’s largest cancer research centre. Both their lives changed after February 24th 2022.

This recording was made on 22 September 2023.

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My questions include:

  1. What were your thoughts and feelings when you woke up last February 24th?
  2. Why did you decide you needed to take action? And how?
  3. When did you first arrive at the train station and what did you find there?
  4. You obviously helped the people there a great deal, but what did you get out of the experience, what did you learn or discover about yourselves?
  5. Sveta, with Sanya’s help, you published a book called “Operation Montparnasse”. It contains the stories of refugees and also the stories of your fellow Russian volunteers/translators. What would you say is the particular importance of the book for you?  And for your readers?

The book Operation Montparnasse can be purchased on the website of the association KabiNET. The book can also be purchased via the German online bookstore Bookinist and Ant, as well as at Pushkin House in London.

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