I don't want my child to live among Nazi symbols

"I am not ready for my child to live in a country among Nazi symbols. He will have to keep quiet about what he thinks. He'll have to lie. Call white black." Motion designer Vsevolod explains why he left Russia after the war began. "Eyewitnesses of February 24, 2022. Voices of people whose lives were changed by the war.

Tell us about yourself.

- I am a motion designer, mostly working with holiday decorations for large events. I moved here from St. Petersburg, but I didn't have any particular place where I lived, so I had time to travel almost all over Russia.

Your first thoughts and feelings?

- Fear. Not for myself, but for the fact that such things can happen now at all, because it seems that there was already such an experience in the last century. How it is possible to allow such a brutal killing of people in immeasurable numbers - I do not understand. There is incomprehension, fear, and some kind of breakdown inside, which ruins everything. I had a period before that, when I spent over a year trying to bring strangers closer to the future through my telegram channel. I'm working with artificial intelligence, talking about how great it is. And after the war started, I realize that I don't know why I should do it anymore, because if that's what's going on in the world, how can you carry any kind of light feelings further?

Why did you leave Russia?

- I do not agree with Russia's foreign policy. I consider it a crime what our government is doing. I want my child to live in a country where he will have the opportunity to grow up in a peaceful environment, with good prospects. I understand that I don't want my child to grow up in the Russia that it has now become: one that supports wars, with these new Nazi symbols. I don't know where life will lead him in such a country. He will have to keep quiet about what he thinks, he will have to deceive, to pass one thing off as another, to call white black. I also do not see any prospects for myself as a specialist in Russia. I am not ready to work for the government, and other projects have closed one after another.

How did your loved ones feel about your departure?

- In many ways my friends support me - I felt that while I was staying in Russia. When I communicated with those who had managed to leave, I was genuinely happy that someone had succeeded. When I found myself here, they also started writing to me sometimes: "Oh, cool, we congratulate you. The relatives... My mom worries about us and what's going on. She can't leave Russia. We don't talk to my stepfather anymore because he supports the war. All in all, I don't have any other contacts to discuss this with anymore.

Did you try to change the minds of those close to you?

- I tried to have these conversations, but I didn't throw facts at them, I led people astray with logical reasoning. I would ask them, based on their current opinions, leading questions that sometimes put them in a logical deadlock. And it turns out that the person brings himself into this misunderstanding. On the one hand, I feel glad that I've been able to get people to question, but I also see that for many people supporting the special operation is more of a way of holding on to some kind of foundation. And when you knock that foundation out from under their feet, they begin to suffer. You can see their eyes get sad. I'm not ready to take on that kind of responsibility.

Whose fault is it that the lives of millions are ruined?

- One could answer with one word: "Putin. But it's probably silly to blame one person for the way the situation turned out. He too made the wrong decisions, there were other people in his entourage who also made those decisions. I think it is the government that is to blame, because there have been enough actions on their part that have led to this. Even starting from '14, from Crimea, from the development of the separatist movement in the LNR and DNR. At that time one could still wonder whether what they were doing was good or bad. But now it was unequivocally their mistake, and it is impossible to forgive them.

What awaits Russia?

- I have talked to people who have said that little will remain of Russia as a territorial integrity as it is. How do I personally feel about this? If certain regions, like the Far East, Siberia, the Urals, or those closer to Moscow, can provide for themselves and arrange a good life for people, then I see no problem with Russia dividing into these "states" like in the United States. Perhaps this would be the right result of dividing Russia. But, on the other hand, it is difficult for me to judge how this could happen in reality, since I am not an expert.

Feeling guilty about what's going on?

- The first few days there was both a sense of shame and a sense of fear that I was in a country that was doing this. After I left there, I felt better. There is some shame for the fact that I felt better, too, because I realize that there are people in Ukraine right now who keep getting bombs falling on them, and they don't feel any better. About collective responsibility: we can say that we didn't do enough to stop this government, we didn't vote in time, but it's all retrospective. There's no way to talk about what should have been done differently in the twelfth year. I have probably distanced myself from Russian politics and no longer associate myself with Putin, with Russia, with the negative aspects of Russia. After all, I consider myself a person who belongs to the cultural part of Russia, and I am not ready to be ashamed of culture.

What are you afraid of?

- What I fear is that there are now tension points in Armenia. I understand that this is not only in Armenia - this is the case in all the former CIS countries. If Putin starts making additional steps, tries to go into Georgia or starts moving towards the Baltic countries, I would really hate to find myself in World War III, because then I have no idea where to go. Now I was able to go to a quiet, peaceful place, without Z signs, without loud calls for war, and it became easier. But if suddenly there is a war here, too, and planes start flying and dropping bombs over us... I wouldn't like that very much.

What's wrong with Russia?

- A democratic system implies a change in power. When one person is at the helm for a long time, stagnation and stagnation begin, which is what we are seeing now. This is an example of how one person starts to make a series of successive mistakes, and he can no longer roll back. So the only way out for him is to make the situation worse. People in Russia need to start treating their actions more responsibly, and not just throw everything away on conventional politicians. When you pay taxes in European countries you understand what you are paying them for. With us people are used to just give money, to be a silent crowd. That's probably the main problem.

Will you come back if Putin's regime falls?

- I understand that I would very much like to live in Russia, for example, somewhere in St. Petersburg, but I don't see such a possibility in the next 10 years. Even if there is a change of government, if there is a coup d'état, if Navalny is released and everything changes drastically for the better. I understand that the next 10 years will be a severe crisis, and I can't count on a good life in Russia. I would like to go back - it is, after all, my homeland. And I understand how good this country could be if the money that went into the pockets of individuals belonged to all people, like in Norway. If we figure out how to reform the system and make life better for ordinary grandparents, so that they do not have penny pensions, so that they are not forced to pick in garbage dumps, perhaps then I will understand that it is time to move back.

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