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Living as a Russian in Ukraine

Nataliya is Ukrainian-born, but Nataliya Myslo is also half Russian-Ukrainian. Because she attended Russian schools, and communicates in Russian exclusively with her family and friends, the world around her in Ukraine is predominantly Russian. Myslo was ashamed of her Russian roots after the Russian president Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

Myslo, via a translator with, spoke. There is a reason‘s Nancy Rommelmann Sitting in a station car in the lot of a supermarket, Lviv Ukraine. 

Nataliya Myslo

It’s horrible to see what is going on. There’s no other way. My Russian-born mother is visiting us and is still in shock. There are many Russian relatives that I would like to share the truth with. It’s not true, and they won’t listen to what we have to say. You can’t shoot through it. Their information comes from Russia’s main television stations. It works. With that information they are like zombies and don’t listen to anyone else.

We try to tell them we have no fascism or Nazism. No one harms or touches us. My mother was raised in Russia, and has always lived there. [in Ukraine]Since the 1960s. Russian-speaking people are among our friends.

Since the start of World War II, our Russian relatives have not called us. “They haven’t even asked, “Are you okay?” Or, “Should you ask us to help or rescue you? You are Russians. Maybe somebody is going to murder you?” They do not seem worried. While they aren’t aggressive towards Ukrainians, they do have a hostile attitude to our authorities. They call our authorities Nazis. This is very amusing. Zelenskyy, who is Russian-speaking and from Central Ukraine, is Jewish. He is Jewish and speaks Russian, so how are you able to call him Nazi? They are trying to make him an adversary. They must have him as an enemy. 

“[Russians]Many live extremely poor lives. Because they are currently living in poverty, they cannot expect sanctions to make any difference. While they may have natural gas to sell to several countries, most of their customers don’t own gas at home. The living standards in Ukraine are better than those in Russia, so maybe they’re trying to kill everything.

“I know many Russian friends who live abroad. They say it’s a shame they are Russian, which I can also say it is for me. It’s something that I couldn’t imagine myself saying.

Putin’s actions are beyond my comprehension. All of us were hoping that he would pretend, threaten, or bargain to obtain better terms in negotiations, but we weren’t sure he could. All were shocked. There is a large Russian-speaking community, so we made the decision to switch. Since we disagree with Russia, we speak Ukrainian to one another. Because of this crazy language, we decided to switch our native languages.

“We were able to find a contact point for mothers of Russian soldiers. They now have a group. Mothers of Russian soldiers uniteWe send information to them, explaining that the sons of their military friends are going to kill civilians as well as soldiers. They are shocked and confused. Mothers are extremely stressed by this information, and do everything they can to keep their sons safe. 

There were other methods to combat information. Google Maps is a way to share information. We first look at documents about soldiers. We have many documents and their addresses. After looking for a place to eat or a bar in our area, we create a review on Google Maps. We write a review saying, “People from your town come and kill my civilians.” These documents show that he has been imprisoned or died on this land. It’s real. It isn’t fake information. Because you can’t delete the review from Google maps, this is how we spread the information. Russia blocked Google. The same thing was happening on Instagram. We shared stories using photos and documents, and put their locations with hashtags. Also, the name of the place where the soldier is from. This would make it easier for someone to recognize them. Recently, Instagram split Ukrainian and Russian users. Russians can’t see our data and we can’t see Russia’s. They block Facebook and Google. They switched off VPN [virtual private networks]However, we do find a way for people to access this information.

We have video of Russians where they were asked whether or not they supported Putin. They really support Putin. Then we sent this video to all our loved ones and asked, “What is your country doing?”