It's good if at least our great-grandchildren make up.
"I'll tear out my own eye, let my mother-in-law have a crooked son-in-law. According to Ksenia, an actress from Moscow, this simple formula is the essence of what is commonly referred to as the "Russian idea," the "special civilizational path" of Russia, which is opposed to the outside world. This is what the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops grew out of. Watch the next issue of Eyewitnesses on February 24.
Tell us about yourself.
- My name is Ksenia and I am an actress at the moment.
How did you learn about the war and what were your first feelings?
- Already on February 22, I knew that there would be a war, but I thought it would go on unnoticed, like all previous wars. It didn't seem to concern you and was happening somewhere else. On February 24, I woke up at 11 a.m. - I was working late at night - and a friend of mine from Paris wrote me that the war with Ukraine had started. I thought he was confused about something, or that something was happening in Donbass again. But when I saw that Russian troops had entered Ukraine, that planes were already in Kiev... And as it happened, my father died five years ago on February 24. And I remember that when I looked at him and I saw his last breath, I knew that was it. And when I saw the planes on the territory of Ukraine, I also understood that that was it, that was the end. There would be no more life. I experienced the same feelings.
What did friends say?
- They didn't even understand my panic. I had hysterics, panic attacks, I was going through it all very hard, even though it was still relatively peaceful and safe in Ukraine, and somewhere else it was still peaceful. And my friends didn't understand why I was panicking. They said it would all be over in a week, it was all expected, it was nothing, nothing terrible would happen. I was also surprised by people's phrase that they were only shooting at strategic targets. That surprised me. If they were shooting at strategic objects in front of my house, it wouldn't make me feel any better. The very fact that they were bombing, that they were shooting, that there was a war - it was insanely scary. I was amazed at the calmness of the people.
Do loved ones support the war?
- Let's just say that those who were supportive are no longer my friends and acquaintances. Some of them unsubscribed from me, some of them I stopped communicating with. Those who stayed in my social circle, of course, they don't support me, but they don't do anything. That is, of course I am not supportive, but I am on the sidelines, I do not want it to affect me, it is not my fault, I am all waiting for it to end. In the family, unfortunately, they support.
Participated in protests in Russia?
- I was at the first protests that took place in the first days of the war. Then I realized that it was all useless and dangerous. That is to say, I know how to run away from the riot police. I've had a lot of experience: I've been going to rallies since '14. I already know the center, where and where to go. But I still support quiet actions: the feminist movement, "Vesna," green ribbons, putting up crosses in my yard, and I have a charity tattoo. I got it in the early days of the war, the money went to help Ukraine.
How is the West better than Russia?
- The standard of living. I was raised in a very patriotic family. My grandfather was a World War II veteran - you understand the atmosphere in which I was raised. And all my patriotism, brought up by my parents, just collapsed when I was in Berlin for the first time in 2011. I saw how the defeated country lived, and I immediately thought that the special way was something else. And also, why I choose the Western path, democracy, liberalism - because it is freedom for all, the freedom to be yourself. I realize that I would be in big trouble for this interview now, but I wouldn't be in trouble in the West. I would be able to speak out calmly and openly. And to have any position and not be afraid of it.
Do you feel guilty about what is happening?
- Experiencing. I am very ashamed. My only feeling is wild shame. Especially when I saw what happened in Bucha. I will try to explain. I grew up in the same country with these people, I can't even call them people, the soldiers who did this. We watched the same movies, went to the same school. Probably walked the same streets. But that's what happened in their lives that they came and did this? What could have happened? I can't imagine what would motivate me to do something like that. I just don't understand what happened in these people's lives.
Was there any threat to Russia?
- Well, you understand that this is nonsense. There was no threat to Russia. But now there is. All the countries have rushed into NATO, and I'm not sure that Russia will let all this slide. I am sure that Russia will be held responsible for this. But I didn't see any threat at that time. And even the question about the alleged oppression of the Russian population in Ukraine... My friends never had any of that. No Banderites, no marches, no harassment - they don't know about it at all. They have lived in Ukraine all their lives and have never encountered it personally. Perhaps there were some precedents, but there was no such thing even among their acquaintances. And even if there were, I, as a resident of Russia, was not even bothered by it. What difference does it make? Some other country is being oppressed. Well, that's fine. But it's their country. Those who are harassed can leave, if that is really the situation. Get the same asylum in Russia. And I, as a resident of Russia, simply won't go to Ukraine. That's it, I won't be harassed there. And my boss, by the way, went to Lviv, back in 2018 - we were taking him on vacation then, almost like going to Syria. Because how is it, to go to Lviv on a tour. There were such creepy stories about the Bandera people and something else. He came back and said: "Nobody said a bad word to me as a Russian. On the contrary - there was friendly teasing, teasing that: "Not good, of course, what you did to our Crimea." But no one said a bad word to him. No one insulted him. That's why I don't think it's true either.
Whose fault is it that the lives of millions are ruined?
- It is already clear who is to blame. I think it's the mentality that has been brought up since the revolution. I think it is primarily his fault. It's the reason Russia has such a government all the time. The war with Ukraine has not been going on since February 24th. It started a long time ago. And if you also take the Holodomor. This special way, which the Russians have been conditioned since the revolution, that we are special, we're against the States... Let us be bad, but not as bad as in the West. I see a big problem with that. The revolution is also strange. This ideology that is against the rich, against capitalism, stubbornly against the good life. The desire for the same special way that North Korea, Cuba, Iran - the renegade countries - are following. It is unclear why you should pluck out your own eye, and let your son-in-law be crooked, as long as it is not with America. Anything, as long as it is not with America. I think this is the problem, and our rulers cling to this mentality very well.
Are friendly relations with Ukraine possible in the future?
- I doubt that very much. I think that children who buried their parents, who were murdered in front of their eyes, Ukrainians who were raped - they can no longer explain that Russians actually can be good. It is good if our great-grandchildren make up and forgive each other. And the great-grandchildren of Ukrainians will forgive the great-grandchildren of Russians for what is happening now. Although I had an episode in Germany - we were hosted by a German family. Ordinary Germans. I was showing photos of my Russian family, I had a photo of my grandfather with World War II decorations on May 9. And the German head of the family said: "Oh, my gosh, my grandfather fought in the war, too. His grandfather died in World War II, didn't make it. And I thought that maybe our grandfathers had fought together once, and it was possible that my grandfather had even killed his grandfather, but now some years had passed and we were sitting at the same table, no recollection of it. I didn't feel that I was in the territory of a country that once killed Russians, killed the population of my country. So, in principle, anything is possible.