Welcoming Ukrainian refugees, a “way of protesting” for Russian volunteers

Faced with the repression of the pacifist movement in Russia, the Russians opposed to the war are involved in the reception of the Ukrainian refugees, recount The Moscow Times. The English-language site launched by Russian expatriates notes that many Ukrainians “are not only traumatized but feel trapped in Russia, without money, without documents [administratifs] or even without clothes”.

More than 1 million Ukrainian refugees have crossed the Russian border since hostilities began last February, and some have been unable to choose their destination. Most are sent to one of 9,500 temporary reception centres, explains Tea Moscow Times, sometimes thousands of miles from home, like in Vladivostok on the Pacific coast.

If NGOs like the Red Cross are involved with them, this aid is not enough, say Russian volunteers interviewed by the news site.

Accomplices of the “Ukrainian Nazis”

“It’s our way of protesting”, testifies Veronika Timakina, a 19-year-old activist. She organized the reception of refugees in her town, Tver, 200 kilometers northwest of Moscow, before fleeing herself due to pressure.

“Volunteers are not often accepted in refugee centers”, testifies another volunteer, on condition of anonymity. Originally from Tikhvin, 200 kilometers east of Saint Petersburg, he accuses the Russian authorities of mismanaging the refugee centers, where even basic health equipment is missing.

Russian volunteer groups are sometimes forced to operate underground to avoid attracting the attention of intelligence services or pro-Kremlin activists. The Moscow Times reports the story of the lawyer of a Russian volunteer arrested in April whose door was covered with the inscription “An accomplice of the Ukrainian Nazis lives here”. An overview of the tense atmosphere that reigns in Russia and the amalgam that is made between humanitarian volunteers and anti-Putin activists.

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