"My only wish is that Russia would run out of weapons faster."
Zinaida is 44. Nine months ago she left Russia. Before the war she lived in Rostov-on-Don and worked as an economist. She was building a career because she was always afraid of poverty. Now she has come to the conclusion that "even being homeless is not scary", as long as she is in harmony with her conscience. Her monologue is in the Eyewitness Project.
– I first saw information that Russia was going to attack Ukraine sometime in September . By the end of the fall, such information began to appear more and more often from various sources.
At some point I began to notice that I was driving to work, and almost every morning I would bump into the tail of a military convoy with people or trucks completely covered by an awning.
I was worried that I always saw them going in one direction and never in the opposite direction for 1.5 months. I shared my reflections with the thoughtful ones, and everyone reassured me: "What are you talking about, this is a drill, what war, this is our old man scaring us, the army is not capable of anything...".
I don't remember when I saw the first message on any of the telegram channels about the start of the war. I was already at work, had time to do some routine work, so I could take a five-minute time out. My first thought was, "No way, it's a fake." Even in spite of the anxiety, which in February was already constant, I did not want to believe it. I looked at the other chat, Facebook...
For me it was a feeling of horror, of disaster. I contacted my friends in the Odessa region...
For the first month since the start of the war I could not sleep properly. I don't know what that condition was, I had never been like that, not even in the hardest of times. All of the Putler supporters in my circle fell away (I did not even notice when they became Putler supporters – before the war started, everyone was unhappy with what was happening in Russia).
At my work (a factory with a fairly large staff) everyone resembled mentally ill people – out of my immediate circle of 50 people, only two were as horrified by what was happening as I was. The rest, word for word, retold all the propaganda nonsense of the Russian TV channels.
But I was very lucky with my close people, none of them said that "everything is ambiguous and we don't know the whole truth." It is clear to all of us that Putin is a war criminal and that Russia is committing military aggression on the territory of a sovereign state.
We made anti-war leaflets and went to anti-war pickets as long as it was even possible, until we were taken to the police station. There were 11 people in the police van with me. In the end, after about three hours only two of us were left at the station, the rest, including me, were released without a protocol. And without an explanation of the reason for detention. It was the middle of April 2022.
On May 8, I left Russia. I sold my car to get some money, went to South Korea, simply because it is "visa-free" and I can stay for 2 months continuously. Without any plans beyond the day of arrival + 1 week (I knew that there would be quarantine because of the situation with covid).
Then, some time later, I met Russian-speaking people and they told me that I could apply for temporary asylum in the Republic of Korea. Now the issue of documents is resolved, but I still do not have any long-term plans. Now my life planning is limited to 6 months – from one visa renewal to another.
Will I ever return to Russia? Probably not. There are no prerequisites for changing the situation in Russia – most people are happy with everything.
I'm not afraid to resist the system, I just don't see the point in it: it's me and people like me who are superfluous in this territory. My only dream now is that Russia will run out of weapons and mobiles, and that there will finally be a peaceful life in Ukraine. And I would have a chance to visit my friends.
As a P.S. The recent photo (above) probably best describes the situation. Over there in front of the shore, though not native, but more friendly and humane. Being here for the first time I thought - it's not even scary to be homeless here. And this despite the fact that all my life I was afraid of extreme poverty, even a career was out of fear!