Witnesses Against War #12: Former Tour Guide, St. Petersburg. Now in Serbia

10 June 2022

Source: Witnesses Against War

Witnesses Against War is an anonymous international group of journalists, writers, historians and translators, who live in Moscow and London. For reasons of security, their project is anonymous. In addition to the above websiste, you can also find them on Instagram / Инстаграм  and Telegram / Телеграм.

Former Tour Guide, St. Petersburg. Now in Serbia

From the Telegram Channel created by Russian journalist Roman Super.

Hello Roman.

I constantly read your channel, it is literally a ray of light in the you know where. I am a former tour guide from St. Petersburg. I always thought that it was impossible to take my personal freedom away from me. It turns out, it’s possible.

The total destruction of Memorial at the beginning of January 2022 sent me into a deep stupor. In the very hour after the Memorial trial, I decided to buy one-way tickets for my husband and I, for wherever where my finger landed on the map. It landed on Serbia, these days a calm place. We decided to leave for a month or two in order to return with an understanding of what to do next. I wanted to have a change of gear and focus on another country: its people, problems, language, culture.

Exactly a month later, on February 24th, the world turned a somersault, and the lights went out. It was monstrous to hear that our country was bombing Kyiv, it’s still hard to understand it. At first it was devastating to hear about Kyiv. Then about Odessa. All the time I mentally addressed [Mikhail] Zhvanetsky, almost prayed. I thought that nothing would crush me after the closing of Memorial. However, my country crushed me once again. Returning is now out of the question.

I am a sociable person, the Serbian language is quite close to ours, and there are more and more compatriots here every month of the war. I often meet people who are ready to socialise in any language. Serbs love Russians, they always give them a special greeting: “brothers”. And I very often hear support for the war in Ukraine. “Putin is doing everything right, you have a strong one there.” I was lucky with the owner of our rental apartment: “war is the worst thing that can happen to any people.”

As a rule, our friends and relatives are all against war. Well, maybe I simply don’t recognise other people. Most of the Russians are here because they do not agree with the regime of their own country. Although there are also those sporting T-shirts decorated with a well-known letter. I pass them by, I can’t even look, it hurts my eyes. Just yesterday, I had yet another chance meeting with a Ukrainian woman, from near Chernihiv. Her brother is in the territorial defence now. I could not immediately find the words to express my solidarity with her country. Only tears. And she said very simply: “Don’t worry, we have no complaints against you. We know too well who is at war with us. Your Putin will still be killed by our people, and it will become easier for everyone to live.”

She spoke these words without a shadow of doubt or anxiety. Pure inner determination and total confidence.

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