Thursday, March 31, 2022

Ordinary Russians Helping Ukrainian Refugees but Often Fear Being Identified as Doing So, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 22 – A week ago, the Moscow newspaper Novaya gazeta asked its readers for stories about Russians either within the Russian Federation or abroad who were helping refugees from Ukraine. A large number of people in both places responded, but many inside Russia asked that they not be named lest they get in trouble with the Putin regime.

            Some of those helping indicated that they opposed the war, but most said they simply wanted to help ordinary people who are suffering, the paper reports. In the words of one such benefactor, “I remain a human being; I will help.” But even he asked not to be named (

            Ivan Zhilin says that these fears are not without foundation, but adds that ordinary Russians are responding to the misfortunes of Ukrainians and that this form of “public diplomacy, in contrast to that of the government, has not suffered a collapse. It thus represents a small bridge between the two countries.”

            There are many crimes the Putin regime is guilty of and has been charged with in the court of public opinion; but perhaps none is more serious than creating a climate of fear in which its people are afraid to do the right thing lest they land behind bars because of how the Kremlin will view their actions. 

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