My mother's only and younger brother, Nicolas (in Russian it is Nikolay, Kolya, for me, a little girl then, he was "dyadya Kolya"- uncle Kolya) came to live to RIga to my mother. So, I will call him here as I knew him - dyadya Kolya, d.Kolya, my uncle Kolya. It was after my father died, and my mom was a young widow with three children. I do not remember this time when uncle Kolya was living with us, because I probably was 2 years old, or somewhere in that range. My father died when I was 9 months old. I do remember some episodes when I was 6 years old, so d. Kolya should have been earlier, before I was 6. Mother told me this story many times, so I know it as I know it. My mom loved to tell stories, especially like the basic ones which were woven into the fabric of our family history. So this one is one of such stories. Once in a while my mother went to visit a family of Ukrainians in Riga. She knew that family from the time when my father Vladimir was alive. Somebody from that family, a man probably about my father's age, was my father's old friend, whom he probably met at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945 against Nazist Germany). So, after my father died, my mother was visiting some family friends. These Ukrainians were one of such friendly families. My uncle Kolya was doing military service, three years on the sea in the Far East (Vladivostok is one of the big ports there, for example. It is near Japan - that side of Russia - Pacific ocean). After he finished his service, he went to my mom to Riga, to his only older sister, who was a widow with three children and he knew she lived in a spacy apartment. My mother and her brother had always warm relationship, I know. He was a younger brother, so mom took care of him. And he was a very simple, nice, hard working Russian man. He loved his sister. They helped each other, shared, discussed things about their family in the past, when they were growing up in central Russia. So, he lived in my mom's apartment in Riga for a while, a young man, after army, as we say it in Russian (posle armii), he should have been about twenty-one. The mandatory military service during Soviet Union was always at 18 for young men. 2 years regularly, and 3 years for those who were in sea (marine) service. Once my mom took d.Kolya with her to visit that Ukrainian family. It so happened that exactly at that time, a young girl from a small city, a big village in Ukraine, Kharkov area, was visiting that family. The name of the girl was Galina. Galina is a very popular woman's name in Ukraine, and it is used by Russians quite often too. So, this is how d.Kolya met Galina. The two obviously fell in love and decided to get married. By and by, my mom is suddenly called to a local KGB in Riga's downtown. You know, there is a little official postcard in the mail - "Come to such and such place at such and such day and hour." What happened? My mom probably wondered, why the KGB needed her - a young widow with three small children. If I was 2, my sister was 8, and my brother was 13. So, my mom went to that appointment. In the office they asked my mom: "Well, we have here some information about you. It says that you live like a queen, by yourself, in a big apartment, all surrounded by crystal vases and beautiful rugs." My mom replied: "Well, I am a widow with three small children. I work 40-hour week, like all Soviet people. I also take my son to school in the morning, before my work (they walked - ZE). My older daughter is in a weekly boarding school. I take her home for a weekend. My younger daughter is in kindergarten. I take her there every morning before I take my son to school - before my work. The government pays me a tiny stipend for the lost husband for my three children, which, added to my salary, helps to have ends met for the four of us - my children and me. The apartment I live in is from my husband's time: we used to have a smaller apartment, then we made an exchange with our upstairs neighbors on a mutual agreement: they had a smaller family. If you think my life looks like a queen's life - well, it's obviously the life of everyday struggle of a working widow with three children with little income." The decision of KGB was: "For uncle Kolya and Galina, his bride - to leave the city of Riga in 72 hours." Galina, the young girl, wrote that anonymous letter to KGB, wanting to have a piece of my mom's apartment. Shall I now say that it was typical of a Ukrainian person to do something like that out of jealousy? I will not. In every culture there are good people and bad people, but as a historical fact - there were many Ukrainians who served in Hitler's police on occupied Ukrainian territories. There were some Russian traitors, but not as many as Ukrainians. We need to understand the history here. The western Ukrainian territories were going back and forth between tsarist Russia, and Poland, and Lithuania. So, some Western Ukrainians hated Russians, and all what was Soviet. They were extremists which during Soviet Union did not express their hatred much. I remember having an ESL student in my classroom in California. He was an elderly medical doctor, a religious man from Western Ukraine. It was about 5 years ago, around 2017. This is the first time I met a person from Western Ukraine who hated all Soviet (things, time, life). He told me his family story about some hardships they had in the past. Naturally, with such circumstances, and attitude, and hatred, his father and uncles would not think twice to change their loyalty from Soviet to German Nazis in the difficult times of the war of the Soviet Union, when Hitler unannounced attacked Russia - he started bombing Kiev at 4AM on the June 22nd of 1941. Russian people of my generation, Soviet-born, whose parents fought Hitler in the fronts, have this date written with blood in our hearts and our minds. We have it in our memories forever, in a poetic form from the song lyrics which was written right away:
“On the 22nd of June
Exactly at 4 o’clock in the morning
Kiev was bombed and we were announced
That the War just started.”
Двадцать второго июня
Ровно в четыре часа
Киев бомбили, нам объявили,
Что началася война.
And today, all the hating extremists who were more or less quiet under Soviet Union, raised their ugly heads, and in many places of Ukraine they raised actually fascist flags with svastika. And who can tell me now that Putin should not fight the Nazis Ukrainian haters who has been objecting the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk regions for 8 years? Nobody can tell me that! Millions of Russian people feel and think like I. The millions, who have had the same or similar family history. My father fought fascists for all the 4 years of Patriotic War in the fronts. My grandfather never came back from that War. All nations have the right to be independent.
Lugansk and Donetsk have right to be independent if they choose not to be under the corrupted Kiev’s government.
The Ukrainian government has a long history of corruption, problems with economy in the country tied to that corruption. It is a well known fact. I did not know much what happened in 2014 in Ukraine with a coup d’état. Now I understand clearly: that coup d’état was by extremists. Now, after 8 years of staying out of open protection actions of Lugansk and Donetsk, Russia recognized their independence.
The very well-respected Russian American scientist of DNA Genealogy, Anatoliy A. Klyosov, PhD and 12 years of work in Harvard on invitation, on March 10, 2022, said in the interview to a big Russian UTube channel, “My wife and I drank champagne when we heard about the recognition by Russia of independence of Lugansk and Donetsk.”
I completely support Anatoliy Klyosov. He is an honest scientist, who advanced the science in his field in a very significant way, the impartial Russian-American citizen of the world, who lives and works in the USA, as I do. I also am an impartial Russian-American citizen of the world, a Russian, who lives and works in the USA.
We, Russian people from all over the world, wherever our life is, we have our own feelings, family histories, and we have right to be supportive of the just actions to protect Lugansk and Donetsk, while bringing the public attention to the bad things that Nazis extremists are trying to do from Kiev. I do not know much about the current Ukrainian president. I only know that he has lawyer’s education and that he was for a few years a comedian in a show. I do not know his family history. I do not know did his father or grandfather serve in Soviet Army defending Soviet Union against fascists or did his grandfather or other relative served in German Nazis police during the Hitler’s occupation of Ukraine in 1941-42, the years of the Patriotic war. I do not know these facts, and I do not speak about the things I do not know. But every normal person will understand that depending on the family history the views and standpoint of a person are formed.
It is unfortunate that mass media in USA has an overwhelming power over the minds of all people who speak only English, and so they filter the information about the Ukraine-Russia conflict now only strictly from the point of view of those Ukrainian extremists who, since 2014, have tried to stay in power in Ukraine – at any price. It is very unfortunate.
However, the thinking people do know this about the mass media and will not blindly believe all they see on the screen without checking with the facts.
I know, my story does not give many facts, but it gives some true facts – about my family history, about my work experience in the USA, and other facts, that I have lived through and just have shared here.
Why am I impartial and not biased? Let’s see: I am an educator. My major, chosen from my childhood, and followed through life is English language. All my family of origin – father, sister, mother, brother – have passed away. I do not have children – neither from a Russian marriage, nor from an American marriage. All I have is only my love for my teaching profession, my love for the good people and friends, my love for life and justice. I, a Russian person, have never lived in Russia. I was born in Riga, Latvia. I am impartial to Russia and to Ukraine. I see only facts and what is just.
When I was growing up, my mom sent me to my uncle to Ukraine – 90 kilometers from Kharkov (Eastern Ukraine). I went there every year. Many Russian people, like I, have or used to have tight connections, blood connections with Ukraine. Russians will never hate Ukrainians, and Ukrainians will never hate Russians – whatever the propaganda shouts out. We are close Slavic nations. Kiev was a Kievan Rus. Russia started in Kiev. What extremists are doing – it is not what normal Russian and Ukrainian people are feeling.
This is my voice and I am glad I have spoken.
March 16 2022, WED