03/07/2022, 10.27
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War in Ukraine: Russian families in crisis

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The invasion ordered by Putin has caused a generational split: young people criticise the regime, the elderly support the Russian president. According to Kremlin propaganda, Ukrainians are bombing their own homes. The conflict is destroying family units in Russia.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - Among the many tragic aspects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are the disruptive effects on families in Russia, due above all to the loss of so many young lives of the soldiers sent to the frontlines Officially, the Kremlin admits to very small numbers, a few hundred losses compared to the many thousands reported by the Ukrainians.

The corpses are almost secretly repatriated, but the first "silent" funerals have already taken place in the Caucasian regions close to the war zones, such as Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Astrakhan, North Ossetia, Krasnodar and Dagestan. From these territories, the mothers' lamentations also spread to the press, as documented by Kavkaz.Realii, one of the many agencies at risk of closure by the Russian authorities.

Families all over Russia are living these hardships in dramatic conditions, not only because of the physical loss of young people sacrificed to the madness of war, but also because of ideological divisions over the very reasons for the 'special military operation', as the government calls it. Many children break ties with their parents and friends for these reasons.

The 28-year-old Ekaterina, a fitness trainer from the Rostov region near the Donbass, tells of her mother, director of the local House of Culture, who has always supported the government even when its anti-democratic manoeuvres were evident, as in the electoral fraud she had to witness. Now the family is divided over the war: the taxi driver father firmly believes in Nato's threats and approves the invasion, blaming the USA. The mother doubts, but explains to her daughter that 'it was the Ukrainians who asked us for help, don't argue or I'll lose my nerve, it's not up to us anyway'. Ekaterina has stopped visiting her parents, and her husband is in the same situation with his, who are even older and more firmly Putin supporters.

The argument became inevitable after a video shared on the family chat , denouncing the assault, and the mother-in-law lashed out at Ekaterina and her husband calling them 'traitors' and shouting that they had 'lived the last 30 years in vain' after the end of the USSR. The only one to remain silent is her father-in-law from Ukraine, who is obviously unable to speak out so as not to get divorced at almost 90 years old. According to Ekaterina, people who support Putin do so 'because their brains no longer work, or because they never had a conscience'.

Another young woman interviewed lives on the border between the Rostov province and the Caucasus: 24-year-old Viktoria, a potrait artist and illustrator by profession. Her parents live far away, and until the war, her relationship with them was "tender and warm", but now it is hell. Her mother often repeats "you young people don't know what a disaster there was before Putin", expressing her total trust in the leader, supported more discreetly by her husband.

"My parents buy all the propaganda on television, even though they could very well inform themselves elsewhere; they are not old, even my grandmother knows how to use TikTok," Viktoria explains. The young people hope that the older generations will open their eyes to the war, because security and relative prosperity is one thing, but death and destruction is quite another. Viktoria's mother is only 45 years old, yet she invokes the dustiest Soviet slogans against 'aggression by the West'.

The 28-year-old manager Arkadij from Krasnodar considered himself apolitical, and became interested in these issues when the Naval'nyj group denounced Premier Medvedev's glitz in 2017. His 50-year-old mother is convinced by TV propaganda that it is Ukrainians who are throwing bombs at their own homes, and it is impossible to convince her otherwise: if you show her news from the internet, she replies "on TV they said it's all fake news". Arkadij concludes disconsolately that 'soon I will no longer be able to live and work among people who support the genocide of a brotherly people, starting with my mother'.

The website reports many other similar testimonies, mostly disagreements between parents and children, but also between peers, relatives and acquaintances. If the war was also started to 'defend our values', it is certainly destroying not only many lives but also many families, one of the most important values proclaimed by the regime.

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