Interview and photography by Aydin Cetinbostanoğlu
From the ongoing project
“Is it difficult to leave or to stay?”
“This war is awful and destroys our family.”
“My name is Marie.
I’m an activist for the Parnas party. I came to Istanbul on 28 of March with my husband and three kids. It was like a horrible tourist trip. Now I can tell the truth: we were looking for a place where we can escape the war and Putin’s government following. On the 1st of April, the KLM company said that we cannot fly from Istanbul to Belgrade through Amsterdam and rejected our check-in at the jet. That day we were destroyed because we hoped that in Amsterdam we will come and ask for asylum so now we haven’t part of our money and a place to stay.
But I can say without any shame: I tried to fight at the first day of the war in Moscow on Pushkinskaya and I saw what the government done with our peaceful protests: I ended my day at the police officer. I think that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine isn’t a normal thing. There is a simple rule that the border of each country is very necessary and we have to know that the border means that we can’t cross it because of different voices in our head calls us. We have the information that about 70% of people in Russia support Putin and the war. But I can see I can hear and every man in my own family can see that. It’s not a “peaceful people saving thing” and “special operation” as said our government. We think it’s a real war and this is all against the Ukrainian people.
Here in Istanbul our family can breathe normally, because I wasn’t afraid of every sound of police or ambulance and I decided not to hide my face. I decided to fight and fight harder. Every day I came at 15:00 at the Odakule and pay attention people around the world at this war and support the Ukrainian people who suffer rather more than I and my family.
Ukranians lost their homes because of the war. And I lost my home too, because of propaganda war in Russia. Maybe it’s not the same situation as they have but our problems have the same roots: Putin and his ambitions. After all my actions of course I could be followed by Russian police even here, but it wasn’t so just like in Russia. It will be very dangerous for me to return to Russia and I don’t know how to do this if I can’t find the solution. I didn’t know what to do.
It is important to note that, our family have relatives in Ukraine and I wrote a letter with my son. This letter was like kind of adoption of the war around for me and our kind(5y). In this letter, we tell the truth what happened in Ukraine, use the words genocide. This war is awful and destroys our family. Our parents chose to believe Putin’s propaganda, it is simple: the wold against us, we are the best nation.
For our family photos from Mariupol is not just scare pictures, there are some where in a hole is hiding husbands old relative with small nephews. There’s parents are fighting and home, car was destroyed. And after all of this, he connected with the terrorists.
I wanted to be a journalist, but my father rejected me, that’s why I have another high education, but I can write well, maybe that’s why the Russian government noticed me and think that my lecture was very dangerous.
It is a very hard time for our family because my kids saw this war on TV, hear the sound of war everywhere, and they are trying not to keep silent. But they pay their price for the truth: can’t sleep normally and they can’t eat. They started to jump and cry without any reason. I hope that soon this war will be ended. Russia will be free! Glory to Ukraine!”
A letter to the World from Severinus Severinoff
My name is Severinus Severinoff. I’m from Rostov-on-Don, Russia. I study English and Dutch. I want to report a human rights violation. I hope that in the civilized world there is a place where the rights and freedoms of citizens are above the ambitions of the ruling clan, and the sovereignty and indivisibility of the neighboring state is not questioned.
I’m 5 years old, I can notice a lot. When I turned TV yesterday, I saw a war! My mother quickly switch it, but this news was on every channel. She got sad and we watch my favorite Sesame Street show, and I could feel safe that evening, but I saw a war.
I heard a war! When today my mum’s friend called and said about her son. This boy was in the army now, but suddenly he appeared in the military hospital in Rostov. She was scared and warred about his leg injury which he got in Ukraine.
I am afraid of the war! I have a big family: dad, mum, brother, sister and I. My younger brother (3y) starts cry without any reason, I’m sure, he feels the war in the air, but doesn’t understand at all what’s going on in adults world. No one talks to us about this unexpected war, to them we are just kids.
I decided to ask my family about the situation around us. Mum and dad said that in the all Russian media you can’t find the real truth about this extermination of the Ukraine people. And that’s why after the Russian army invasion mum’s Ukraine relatives in Kiev and dad’s friends have to hide and try to survive. We all very worried, sometimes mum cry at night, and dad become silent.
Why we can not stop all of this genocide against the Ukraine people by themselves? Because according to the documents we are Russians, although our roots are from west Ukraine. I can’t visit the protest rally(it’s a law), and my parents so afraid to lose us after the protest rally against the Ukraine’s war. The government can take my father in the army, I don’t want to lose him.
We can’t live in the country which makes my father fight and hate members of common roots, my relatives. And any help to the west Ukraine’s and contact are considered as the act of betrayal, and the helping the terrorists.
What are the consequences for our family because of this situation? They made my Dady to live his good work in service of the bank security system, they don’t trust him anymore ’cause of our communication with Ukraine relatives and friends. And he can’t find another work at the sea (he has big experience) at the same reason.
We leave our favorite dog Zefir, mum said it will help us to have the ability to leave at any moment so I have a toy dog Dexy. I can’t sleep without him. We go for a walk less often to stay safe.
My mum says that the court of human rights can consider our letter and rescue us.
P.S. I ask You not to let them to take my father! We are NOT agree with this genocide of the Ukraine nation. They are controlling internet, maybe hard to contact you later.
Best regards, Marie Severinoff “
Interview and photography © Aydin Cetinbostanoğlu
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