Exactly five years ago I returned from Pervomaysk, LPR.
I was still shivering, but I understood the consequences only years later. Already then, on New Year’s Eve, I sensed the approach of PTSD which has never entirely left me.
I was recently invited to appear on the Zvezda TV channel, about which I wrote sharply and emotionally. Incidentally, my appearance was no less sharp and emotional. The anchor incredulously asked me how I’ve managed to stay positive, having been to war and seen hell.
I’ve always been “Hirosimka”, a positive thinker, but I became a genuine optimist only recently.
Back then, in December 2014, I saw how we don’t know how to take joy in simple things–Mandarin oranges, the vegetable salad for New Year, decorated trees–except in the midst of war. We eternally grumble, things are always bad for us, we’re always lacking something. I remember how back then in LPR trees were being put up and decorated. Even though fighting was still very intense. People had genuine joy. Everyone was asking me whether I had a tree back home, as if that was the most important thing. Turns out it was. Of course, people were asking for peace, were hoping the war would end. But at the same time they were joyful. I returned home to Moscow where all of my friends and acquaintances were complaining from dawn to dusk. I wanted to kill them. I wanted to shake them and slap their faces.
It’s probably then that I became a total and unfounded optimist.
There were many trips to the Donbass after that. So much human suffering that I don’t know whether my fragile human body can withstand it.
It probably cannot. On its own.
But I am not alone. You have been with me all these five years. I would have episodes of hysteria, desperation. I wanted to abandon it all many times, but a single thought that you were with me always helped.
And now it’s a New year and we are still receiving donations for aid. Dear Lord, we are receiving donations for our single grannies, for multi-child families, for cancer patients, children. I don’t know how people find the time, before the holidays and all the craziness nevertheless remember. And today I received many messages from people asking how to donate. Miracles!
So how am I not be happy and certain that all will not simply be well, but better than anything!

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We are a tank!

About four years ago I wrote in LiveJournal about collecting money to help the Donbass. I really didn’t want to do that–as soon as money is involved, people start talking about thieving. Over these four years, nearly every post from a vacation or following a purchase something, I read about how I steal from Donbass children. Incidentally, these accusations are posted by the same people who wish on these children. That’s how mixed up some people are.
Sometimes it was downright comical–I was accused of stealing in order to live in South Africa, where I did live long before the Maidan. I never answered these emanations in the comments, although, to be honest, it was very unpleasant to read them. Don’t write “forget about it”–know what that is. But one still cannot avoid unpleasant feelings.
I feel it is unnecessary to explain to people that I have a husband who has a decent salary and also supports the Donbass, it seems like making excuses. And explaining that I lose money due to my aid activities is pointless. I was more than once offered jobs which I had to turn down because I would not be able to continue this effort. So they’ve stopped. I can’t even go teach full time at a good university. I’m only an hourly instructor. And I love teaching.
My blog is visited every month by hundreds of thousands of people (not views, people). Hundreds of thousands! That’s nuts. And that’s for a blog on whose promotion I did not spend a single ruble and where I don’t even write every day. And, incidentally, the posts not about Donbass are far more popular than the posts about. Even considering that LiveJournal “is dying”, “is no longer the same”, I still have advertisers. I wrote about this many times, but no, not a single advertiser wants to have anything to do with politics, which is understandable. Especially with politics of someone whose name is on Ukraine’s Mirotvorets web site.

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About the Victory

At the age of 17, I went to see a girlfriend in Malta during the summer after completing the first year. We were invited by a family for a supper. We spent the evening by a pool with a fancy table around which many notables from this tiny nation were sitting. They were related to the girlfriend’s husband, and they were old enough to be my parents and even grandparents. And then they suddenly started to speak about World War 2.
It all ended with my girlfriend tearing me away from the Maltese aristocracy which couldn’t understand what triggered me. I was seventeen, and it was the first time I heard that USSR played only a minor role in that war. They were around, they helped bring victory closer.
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When people call me a philanthropist, I get angry.
I also don’t like terms “humanitarian worker” and “volunteer”.
These worlds are absolutely alien to me, even though by and large they do refer to me.
But today I was able to figure out what makes me angry.
I wanted to become a writer during the last 10 years of my life. My father wrote, grandmother wrote, and I never planned it or saw myself in it.
My school compositions are horrible, to say the least. I wrote poorly and my writing is still bereft of talent. My phrases are awkward, and my texts full of repetition and endless inversions. When I reread my posts after a while, I want to destroy or rewrite them. But I give up and write something new.

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They are killing us

Every couple of months I succumb and begin to howl like a wounded beast. I curse my hapless newsfeed with its cats and palm trees. I wring my hands and whine nobody cares about the war. After that I usually get comments from people who do care, reassuring me they remember and worry. Some write that it’s impossible to live in stress for three years on end, one has to rest too. And that I don’t have the right to demand constant compassion and concern. And what can one do anyway?
I write this every time knowing that I do this mostly for myself. Due to the sense of hopelessness-what can one do but write when you see it with your own eyes?
What can I do? A month ago I was frantically calling on people not to remain silent, but to write and speak out.
But nothing happened, which I find the most maddening.
I’m mad that I personally can’t do anything about it. I’m mad about my own powerlessness, outside of my writing.
And nothing is happening.
When I was 12, I remember how I sat in a room with headphones on, and suddenly stopped breathing due to all the injustice around me. I was stunned by the imperfection of this world, so much so that I didn’t even cry. I stopped breathing and lay still. Then I thought that one could give one’s life, like a gift, in order to save others. It was a typical moment of youthful self-realization that everyone experiences. The naive thought that you can change something with your life or death.
In December, we went to the Donbass with another batch of aid.
Just a week before our visit Inna’s house, practically in the center of Pervomaysk, was hit by a shell.
It was December 13, 2017, 1:30am.
She and two children were sleeping in an adjoining room when the shell struck.
Both the kitchen and bathroom were destroyed.


Look at the photos she gave me.

By irony of fate, she was not on the Donbass in 2014, the hardest year for the Donbass.
She and the kids left to escape the bombing. When the city was being killed by all kinds of artillery and aircraft.

Having waited out the worst, she returned home when shells nearly stopped.
And…woke up at night due to an “incoming.”

In less than a week, the house was fixed up. Communal services now react instantly. They are on the scene on the same day. But they can’t restore the internal finish, or replace the furniture or, most importantly, replace that which the people lost when the shell struck. That will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The fear, when you wake up at night and don’t know whether your relatives are alive. Whether you are alive.
When everything around is roaring and crumbling.

Just try to imagine. In detail.
This can happen to hundreds or thousands over there, on the Donbass.
With people who have become hostages.
But no, we are not at war.
How can one justify that?
What kind of piece of human garbage must one be to believe that children and elderly deserve having to sit in bomb shelters?

They are killing people, it’s as simply as that, for nothing. People like us. Not any “citizens of another country.”
It’s us.
They are killing us.
I’m not 12.
I’m 33, and I know that nobody’s death will change anything. But my breathing stops just as it did then.
May it be that way.
It’s good.
It’s right.
Because that’s life, and without it I’d be dead.

A New Year like this

A week ago I met with Vitya, we drank tea and he gave me money.
It just so happens that every time he makes the donation in person. We run into each other in the city and casually learn something about one another. He’s a handsome young man who’s been living abroad for a long time and who sometimes visits Russia. He’s got a successful career and a brainy wife.
In the course of our conversation, I accidentally said:
–I was planning to give it all up and stop going to the Donbass.
He sharply replied:
–Please, don’t!
And I was taken aback.
Just as I was taken aback on the New Year’s Eve.

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Please pardon me, but I couldn’t restrain myself

You, the unknown “girl from Ukraine” who wrote a veritable “Yaroslavna’s wail”, why do you hate Russians–you, who are spreading this mass hysteria of Russophobia, you are distorting meanings in every phrase you use. Do you hear me?
You wrote that post in the Russian language. You are using concepts from my culture, not yours.
What do you know about fear?
What do you know about pain?
You’ve seen soldiers in the streets?
Read someone else’s posts? Spent hours in front of the TV?
You are concerned for the kids who are forced, in schools, to draw cranes flying home and send them to soldiers?
What do you know about war, aside from internet hand-wringing by imaginary wives?
I’ll tell you what you need to know.
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What’s all the hubbub?

I start up my computer and there’s nothing on except Eurovision. Ignore, ignore–it never interested me.
But this time it’s off the scale. Out of sheer spite I read nothing, then think–fine, I’ll listen, see what they awarded the prize for.
So I watched. I didn’t know who the winner was or anything at all. Simply watched the whole thing from the start, but already after 30 seconds I felt it was pure kitsch. Pardon me for saying so, but: no voice, no charisma, no nothing. I decided to watched who participated from our side.
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