"Thought about going to an anti-war rally right from the maternity hospital."

Photo from the personal archive of the heroine."Let the angel save Lidochka from troubles, diseases and harm

Anna is 48 years old and has lived all her life in Moscow. Anna has two higher educations, her own business. A participant in all the rallies, beginning with Bolotnaya in 2011, experienced election observer, little by little she became disillusioned with the protest movement. Anna is also an animal rights activist who helps homeless animals. After the war began, she decided to emigrate - and now, from Budapest, she runs a company and arranges the fates of abandoned pets from the capital.

– At the point of the war, I was in a rather panicky state. If you sit at home, you don't notice it, but if you go to rallies, it's pretty obvious that the screws have been tightened so much that it can't go any further. The way we were treated at the rallies for a long time told us that this was a militarized country, and that aggression against those who disagreed would then lead to something else.

When Navalny was jailed I definitively felt that's it . I was under terrible stress. How could it be?! This is the leader of the protests, and we can't do anything. I lost heart from the fact that the result of the protests is only more crackdown. I realized that rallies don't work anymore...
Screenshot of Anna's Facebook post from Feb. 22

After Putin's February keynote speech, it became obvious to me that we were going to attack Ukraine. So I wrote a Facebook post about how we were going to be dealing with this for the next 70 years.

Before that, it seemed to me that a North Korean scenario was more likely to await Russia than a German-Fascist-type regime.

The day after that speech, on February 22, I gave birth to my daughter. On the 24th, she was brought to me in the maternity hospital, and I cried over her, not knowing what to do. I thought about going to an anti-war rally right from the hospital.
Screenshot of Anna's Facebook post from February 24th

All summer I tried to leave Russia, but they wouldn't give me a visa. It was only in September that my daughter and I managed to move in with my sister, who had settled in Budapest since January.

I had to leave a lot behind in Moscow. As long as my business goes on. It is run by my partner. I am, tentatively speaking, on maternity leave. I do work remotely until 12 noon, and then the day is free. A few years ago I built a house in the Moscow suburbs. After all, Moscow is a very hard city to live in on a daily basis.

My daughter's nanny, 7 dogs and 4 cats live in the house now. The thing is, for the past six years I've been involved in animal rescue. When I counted 300 "animal souls," I lost count, although I can't say that my life as a rescuer is just as fulfilling. Animal protection continues, only virtually. I don't see any dogs, but I keep communicating. I have authority in this field, and I continue to help shelters: to collect money, to adopt animals.

In the last month I rescued three doggies. Abandoned pets from the streets of Moscow go to new owners in Holland, Germany, and England. I myself teach them to live at home, not to chew anything, take them to be spayed and chipped. I have friends who help me find them home.

Let[s face it, when I post "hi from home," where the dogs are in their new families, on couches, groomed, I often get comments under the posts, "Alla, send me somewhere just like you send the dogs."

My love of animals comes from my early childhood. One of my first memories is of climbing onto the roof because I heard kittens meowing. I remember when I had these kittens in my hands, I fell backwards, but I didn't let the kittens go. And when I discovered this opportunity to not just pity and feed, but to save, I started doing it.

First on the playground near our new home in Budapest I met a Ukrainian family who escaped the war. We became friends with them, we walk together. It was easy to get across to Ukrainians. And my first joy upon arrival was that I wasn't beaten up here. In three months I haven't seen a single drop of aggression. It seemed surprising, because I was waiting for it.

My new Ukrainian friends are less "pro-Ukraine" than I am. They worked in Kiev for a newspaper in opposition to the current Ukrainian government. They justify many current things that I do not accept categorically. They are much more pro-Putin than I am. 

It struck me. People from Kiev told me that they received SMS messages saying "suitcase - train station - Russia". They have a difficult fate: they are from Donbass, they fled to Kiev in 2014, and from there during the war to Uzhgorod. They ended up here. I, being a Russian, had no conflicts with anyone here in Hungary on the playground, but the Ukrainians did. Hungary and Ukraine have complicated relations of their own, which manifest in everyday life.

I'm madly glad I'm here, because I'm finally starting to live. In Russia I used to read the news all the time, and it ruined me. I would read about another rocket that hit a maternity hospital, and I couldn't recollect myself for a month. Now I can afford the news once every three days.

Although we are still trying to stockpile food in case "tactical" nuclear weapons are used. We buy the essentials. Who knows how long it will be before they decontaminate the area, and what it will be like? Who would have guessed that I would live in the era of the second Cuban Missile Crisis and fear nuclear war?

I listen to my Moscow acquaintances, who, following the TV, repeat, "if not us, then they hit us," "this is a pre-emptive attack. And I'm not sure that I want to go back to such a country. There are a lot of people like that, I'm afraid. They're not bad, they're not good, they're ordinary people. And they're not going to disappear after the war. Besides, I have a little girl growing up.

And in Ukraine they kill a lot of people. There were not many boys in Russia as it was. So there is not much of a future in Russia for my daughter. Perhaps I will live on two countries.

It's very disturbing for the ones who stayed. All the time someone is asking for help, asking for advice. I'm worried about my nanny, her husband served in the army, and I'm always thinking about how to get him out. When mobilisation happened, there was such a flurry of fear from Russia... That's when I was especially glad that I wasn't there.

The war would definitely be won by Ukraine. When they had not yet received weapons from the West, my Ukrainian relatives were afraid that the Russian army would quickly reach Kiev. Now our army should be afraid. After all, Ukraine is so ironic, they're more for "eating-singing," but only until they get angry. It seems to me that Ukrainians are now stronger than Russians in spirit.

My Ukrainian friends and I argue. They prophesy the end of Ukraine. Too many people have been killed. The economy has been destroyed. They say that even if it wins, a lot of pre-war life will not return. But I think it will be even worse in Russia. Ukraine as a country will remain, but Russia will not. Part of the territories will have to be given to Ukraine and possibly Europe, some to China. Russia will be left as far as the Urals. The empire will be over, and that will be good for Russia. We don't need such lands, we don't know how to manage them.

I hope that this will be the worst winter of my life. It will pass, and it will get better. As long as it's normal and not nuclear. All I can think about is those bombs.

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