3 August 2023
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 and Telegram.
Editor, Moscow 50-60 yrs old
Like everyone else, I learned about the beginning of the war on the morning of the 24th. My first thought was – “so he did it after all.” Until the last minute, it was hard to believe that we had lived to experience such horror and shame. That we’re not reading about it in books, but that this is actually happening to us here and now. And then, later, often, when you’re sitting doing something, you’re busy with something, and suddenly you understand / remember: we’re at war. And in this first second you can’t believe it – that’s how crazy and terrible it is.
On the evening of the 24th, my daughter and I went to Pushkin Square in Moscow with a home-made poster saying “No to war!”. We walked round and round, we stood in one place, we shouted anti-war slogans, however, we didn’t hold on to the poster for long: as soon as the cops bust the girl standing next to us, we put away our piece of paper and ran away. Well, we hung around nearby a while longer. We’re are not heroes at all of course – we’re the most ordinary people. But it still feels a terrible pity that there were so few of us that day.
In the first weeks, I didn’t manage at all. I couldn’t work because of panic attacks and a general feeling of dread, so for the first time in my life I had to resort to antidepressants – and I must say, they helped. Well, in a way they helped – antidepressants will not make you happy and, moreover, they will not stop the war, but overall it’s true that you become calmer.
When Bucha happened, the horror returned. Not that it had ever gone away, but this was a completely different feeling – it was not very clear how to carry on living after such an atrocity. Like many, I tried to understand how such a thing could happen at all, how among us, or not among us, but in this country, in my native country, such animals and monsters had emerged. Some of my friends said that all this was not news, that we had turned a blind eye to such things during the Afghan and Chechen wars, and why should we be surprised now. However, on this matter, I think it is better to listen to experts, and this text is about my personal experience.
One of the most important questions that worries many of my relatives and friends is how to live with it. Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself this question. I have no original or surprising ideas about this either. I think it is important, if possible, to help the people whose lives have been destroyed by this war. I admire the guys who help Ukrainian refugees who are trying to get to Europe through Moscow and St. Petersburg. I myself try to regularly help them with a little money and lead an English group for refugees who have ended up in Europe – I am very glad of this opportunity, if such a word is appropriate here – to help specific people at least a little. This somehow helps the fact of living next to evil, and to be at peace with with one’s conscience, although it still doesn’t always work like that. I understand friends and acquaintances who have left or are leaving – it is unpleasant, difficult and shameful to live in the country of the aggressor – for some people it is impossible. But I’m not going anywhere yet – there are personal reasons for this.
I have no positive premonitions about the future or prospects. In the first weeks of the war, there was a sense: well, now they will come to their senses, stop and come to an agreement. After all, this is war, this is madness. Now there are no such illusions: it is obvious that everything can end only with the collapse of this regime, no other option is possible – that is, it will end either in this way or it will not end. How long it will take – god knows, but it is obvious that nothing good (globally) will happen in our century – I am over 50, and we have entered the history books in a downward slope towards catastrophe – it seems that in the near future everything will only get worse and more difficult. And when, after a few pages of the textbook, god willing, the darkness dissipates, we will no longer be here.