Witnesses Against War #16: Creative Copywriter, Moscow

2 July 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.

I am 36, I was born, raised and continue to live in Moscow.

I don’t remember how I found out that the war had started. My psychotherapist would say that I was so scared that my psyche worked in such a way that I don’t remember anything. I remember that in the first days I woke up with a new nasty feeling: what a nightmare, it’s all true.

I usually go to protest rallies. This time on the first evening I did not have time – there was a lot of work. In our work chat, we discussed the war. And on the first evening, our founders and a couple of colleagues went to demonstrate. I work for an advertising agency.

I went out to demonstrate on the second evening after the start of the war. I went to the city centre. The other protesters were all schoolchildren and students. The police split groups up. Someone was snatched from the crowd. It was not like the latest protests after Navalny’s poisoning. Then the educated middle class took to the streets. Then there were entrepreneurs, 30-50 years old. On the second day, only students and older schoolchildren came out against the war.

I wanted to cry and scream.

The war has ruined my plans for the future. I think it will take a long time for Russia to emerge from the economic crisis into which it has fallen. I will pay for the war, and people like me. We do not accept it but we will pay.

The first 3 weeks was non-stop panic. I read the news on Meduza’s telegram channel. But I had to work. To work, I need to be in a good mood, to be at peace. I’m a creative. I couldn’t work properly because of the panic.

Quite quickly, my former colleague, the British actor Ed Stoppard, wrote to me. He asked how things were. It was important for me to write to him. I shared my feelings.

My panic didn’t end there. My Dad’s wife is from Mariupol. Her aged parents were there. Her Dad has Alzheimer’s. Her mother seems to be fine. Also my father’s wife’s younger sister and her daughter, who was already working. The matter was made worse by the fact that my father’s wife had not communicated with her family since the annexation of Crimea.

My Dad and his wife decided to take her family out of Mariupol. Her sister’s apartment was bombed. A shell hit the garden near the parents’ house. My Dad did his best to get his wife’s relatives out of the besieged city. They arrived in Moscow.

Things are not going very well with my Dad’s work – he teaches drawing in his studio. Since the beginning of the war, there have been fewer students. He gets about 100 a month, and gives 60 for the studio. Then he had to rent an apartment for a family from Mariupol. But the main thing is the emotional tension between relatives who would not have seen each other all their lives if not for the war.

On May 13, my grandmother, my father’s mother, died. We all went to the funeral. My Dad’s wife wrote a message to her sister: we’re going to a funeral, we won’t come over but we’ll be in touch later.

Then it turned out that her sister and niece had left for Europe that very day, leaving their parents in Moscow. Now the mother of my father’s wife, an 80-year-old old woman, has decided to return to Kyiv with her husband, who can hardly walk, by bus. Dad and my stepmother wanted to take them to the countryside for the summer. But the old people are against it, they want to go back to Ukraine.

I am lucky that my Dad and sister look at the war the same way I do. We want it to stop.

I have a history degree. At university we read a lot about wars, protests, opposition. And here I find myself in this situation. And I see how I act. And I do not like it. I can’t say that I’m ashamed. I feel bitterly sad.

I have a loan for 2 million rubles, every month until 2025 I have to pay 51,000 rubles. I also pay for the carer for my grandmother with dementia – 22,000 a month. I simply cannot afford to protest on the streets and go to jail for 15 days, pay a fine, lose my job. My family will not be able to pay my loan for me and will not be able to pay for my grandmother’s carer. Therefore, I can only support volunteer organisations with small donations, well, or write this text.

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