Ksenia Lazarov comes from Russia and has lived in the Czech Republic for six years. When her country invaded Ukraine, she did not hesitate and started organizing a voluntary fundraiser in Brno. In the first days of the war, they collected material aid, which traveled to the Ukrainian border. Later, they focused on buying medicine and helping mothers with children. Despite all this, he is discriminated against because of his origin.
“In the street where we organized the collection, I met two Czechs. They asked me where I was from. When I answered that they were from Russia, they told me that they did not didn’t want me here and that I had to leave,” she said.
But she has a strong attitude towards the regime. “I do not support Putin and I condemn what is happening. I have a lot of sympathy for my friends in Ukraine. Moreover, I was seventeen during the elections when Putin was last elected. I did not have the opportunity to vote or have any influence on the political situation,” added the young Russian.
“A week ago a young boy cried in my arms. Sirens sounded in his town, there was a lot of military equipment, he didn’t know what was going to happen. A colleague’s friend is died the same day in Kharkov. I cannot do such things mentally, they are worse than discrimination, ”thinks Ksenia Lazarov.
He has family and friends in Russia. However, they often believe in propaganda and therefore tend to avoid the subject of war when talking together. “We don’t talk about it much because we know we’re going to argue. They believe what Putin says and what’s on TV,” she described.
She recently applied for an extension of her permanent residence in the Czech Republic. But she is afraid of not being able to bear it. In Russia, she faces up to 15 years in prison for helping Ukraine. “All my acquaintances are nervous about this. We helped spread the message that we support Ukraine. I hope I don’t have to go back to Russia, because it would be quite possible that I go. straight to court and then to jail,” Ksenia concluded.
“We do not treat Russian patients”
Anton Vaykhel has lived in the Czech Republic for ten years and advises foreigners. According to him, discrimination against Russians has increased in recent days. “I get reports of five to ten cases a day. Yesterday I got a report that a boy had come to the surgery ward because he had a broken arm. But there was a paper with the text ” We do not treat citizens of the Russian Federation here. They told him that the management forbade the admission of patients from Russia, so he had to go to another clinic,” he claims.
Many Russians do not want to face such behavior. According to Vaykhel, however, it is important to draw attention to these cases, otherwise there is a risk that violence and Russophobia will increase. “It just came to our knowledge at the time. So we try to send these cases to the police,” he explained.
Anton Vaykhel also began to organize a humanitarian collection. Together with other volunteers, they sent about 50 buses, several trucks and more than 100 passenger cars to Ukraine with material assistance.
A boy came to surgery with a broken arm. But there was a paper with the text “We do not treat citizens of the Russian Federation here”. He was told that management had forbidden him to accept patients from Russia, so he had to go to another clinic.
The Russians help, but anonymously
The Russians are helping despite the threat of imprisonment in their homeland for their help. “A large number of Russians joined. But when we organized the fundraiser, people were afraid to write their names on the thank you list,” Vaykhel said.
He now focuses on coordinating volunteer aid and disseminating information via social media. It shares contributions for Russians living in the Czech Republic, as well as for those who stayed in Russia and do not have access to independent media. “Some are in such an information bubble that they think Russia is helping Ukraine. Sharing information, writing about it, talking about it is basically the only thing we can do now,” he thinks. he.
He certainly won’t be looking at Russia in a few years. “The law says that military aid is punished, but I know how it works in Russia. If someone finds out that we sent medicine to Ukraine, he can say it was for the soldiers, and we will be punished “, did he declare.
I don’t feel safe
Eighteen-year-old Elisei, who has been living in Prague for six months, has also been the victim of violence at the hands of the Czechs. He was assaulted this week by a drunken man. “My classmate and I were standing outside the dorms, smoking and talking. We noticed a drunk Czech man shouting something. We decided to ignore him, but then he came towards us and started shouting that we had to die because we were Russians,” the student said.
Elisei claims he wanted to resolve the situation verbally, but the man started digging into the two students. This is why they preferred to flee. The assailant then spray painted the door to the dormitory. “We are shocked. I thought I would feel safe here compared to Russia. At first it was really like that, I could easily walk around the city at night and not turn around at every strange noise. But now I don’t feel safe,” he said. Security cameras recorded the event and the matter was reported to the police. But the attacker has not yet been found. .
He also has many Ukrainian friends, whom he tried to help. “I am very upset that ordinary people are suffering because of the actions of politicians. Including us, the citizens of Russia. We left because we do not agree with the actions of the president. Now we are enemies both for Russia and for the rest of the world,” he concluded.
My classmate and I stood outside the dorms, smoking and talking. We noticed a drunk Czech man shouting something. We decided to ignore him, but he came towards us and started shouting that we had to die because we were Russians.
They are desperate, I understand
Aleksandra Pirogova is also from Russia. He is currently studying in Prague. “I’m ashamed to be in the Czech Republic now. But all I have to do is share the brutal truth about the war and Putin’s actions on social media and send humanitarian aid to Ukraine,” she said.
“Every day, in all major cities of Russia, rallies are held, people are beaten in squares and taken to prison cells, some are fined or sentenced for expressing their opinions in a procession peaceful with banners. But unfortunately, none of these actions can stop Putin,” the student described.
Being in the Czech Republic is the safest for her in this situation. “You will not be imprisoned for public opinion, the principle of non-recognition of collective guilt is starting to spread among the people, which makes life much easier for all Russians and Belarusians,” he thinks. he.
However, despite her attitude towards the regime in Russia, Ukrainians repeatedly came to her and accused her of being responsible for President Putin’s actions or of not doing enough to stop the situation. “These people are trying to get rid of the accumulated anger and despair, I understand. But in fact, no one deserves something like this, ”Aleksandra concluded.