The names of all heroes except Roman have been changed.
“My father asked me to be drafted into the army”
Valery left Russia for Kazakhstan after the start of mobilization. The choice fell on this country, since he had only an internal Russian passport in his hands: his father, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, took his son's international passport to the military registration and enlistment office so that he could not leave Russia and avoid military service.
Valery is the third child in a family of six: “My conflict with my father began at the age of 14 and continues to this day.” The young man says that the story of his departure was superimposed on an earlier family quarrel that happened about two months before the start of the war. Valery moved out from his parents, but they still had some of his documents, including a passport, which his father refused to give:
“I was drafted for military service and after mobilization I found out that my father asked some of his acquaintances to find me and call me up. When I came to my parents after the start of mobilization, in order to try for the last time to pick up my passport and leave the country, in the end I found out that it was in my military registration and enlistment office.
Valery had few levers of pressure: he did not want to apply for his own parents, and going to the draft board was risky. Therefore, he left for Kazakhstan and six months later received a new passport:
“My parents and I didn’t have a conversation that I should go to war, but I’m sure that if I were among those who should be called there, they would not be against it. At least I know for sure that they would not mind if my older brother went to war. After university, he has an officer's rank, and he himself also does not mind [going to war]."
Now Valery communicates with his mother. They still do not agree with each other, but they can maintain a dialogue, she stopped persuading her son to return and serve.
Life in Valery's family is organized according to church canons, everyone adheres to Orthodox traditions, and those that, as he notes, are not typical even for church-going people. For example, his family kept a full fast every week, they always attended church services on Saturday morning and evening, as well as on Sunday evening: “Everyone in our family worked in the temple in one way or another. From the age of 7 I served in the altar, from the age of 16 I sang fully in the church choir, because my mother conducts there. They even paid me for it, it was my pocket money.”
The young man says that his father is “a very systemic and conformist person” - he never argues with what is happening inside the hierarchical chain in which he is, he always observes subordination. Valery’s parents, according to him, always supported everything that was happening in the country and approved the policy of the current government: “In 2014, my parents were sure that the annexation of Crimea was the right decision, and it’s logical that when the war began on February 24, they didn’t doubted that it was right.
Parents believed that the annexation of Crimea was right, and when the war began, they supported it
All children, except for the older and younger brothers (the older one supports the parents, and the latter has not yet formed his own opinion), do not agree with the position of the parents. The elder sister Valeria was the first to leave the family due to disagreements: her conflict with her father was due to the fact that he was against her wedding. Valery's father does not understand and does not accept secular life, although, most likely, he is aware of the "double life" of his children, Valery believes:
“He told me that my personal life did not interest him very much. His parental duty is that I should be fed, dressed, and educated. For what is happening in my life right here and now, he has neither the strength, nor the time, nor the desire.
Valery recalls that he was involved in the political life of the country: he went to rallies, discussed what was happening with friends, and met political activists. His parents do not know about this: “You go to a rally, your mother calls you, you run into some alley to tell her that you are walking with a friend, then you return to Manezhnaya Square. Or you are detained on the Golunov march, and the next day you have an exam in biology, and you sit and think that your parents are not in the city now, and the only one who can pick you up is your sister. And God forbid your parents find out that you were detained. I think there would be a scandal.
"I'll hand you over to a psychiatric hospital or the FSB"
Roman left for Argentina last August. His father, having learned about his son's plans, said that he would either hand him over to a psychiatric hospital or identify him with the FSB. The situation was further complicated by the fact that on the day of departure, Roman's wife, with whom they had been together for fifteen years, reported that she and their two children were not flying anywhere.
After one of the conversations, Roman blocked his father - then Roman sent him a video of the bombed Mariupol and asked if his father really believed that the whole city should have been wiped off the face of the earth. To which the father replied that it was a "fake":
“That word is definitely not in his vocabulary. But now it is his reaction to any arguments. He is not ready to accept that this is true, and whatever he does not accept, he rejects. He has no arguments, except that it is a “fake”.
The young man emphasizes that he still respects his father very much, despite his current position:
“It just doesn’t fit in my head at what point he turned into this person. Where did that person go who, in 2008, when I graduated from university, said: “Nothing good will happen here, you need to go somewhere, and I will pay for all this for you.”
He does not believe that his father was ready to carry out his threats against him. According to Roman, he was always opposition-minded - he never recognized Putin, he voted for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation all his life, he did not even hand over his party card:
“What happened? He turned on the TV in 2014. They just recruited him. Apparently, due to his age, he has some sighing for the “scoop”. Although he did not really see him, because he lived a bunch of years abroad. But nevertheless, when in my school years we went to the Crimea with him, he sighed every time that we pissed off such a country. And in 2014, “our Crimea” happened, and, it seems to me, it simply lay on the fertile ground of this sighing over the lost “scoop”, and gave rise to sprouts.”
In 2014, "Krymnash" simply lay down on the fertile ground of this sighing over the lost "scoop", sprouted
After the outbreak of the war, Roman had a discord not only with his father, but also with his wife. He recalls that he first began discussing plans to emigrate with her back in 2011, but ended up being afraid to leave. They returned to this topic in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, but the departure from Russia did not take place even then:
“I had a very well-fed life, a well-paid job, I just swam like cheese in butter - you don’t run away from such a life. But I was so mentally exhausted and did not agree with what was happening that I began to bring myself to all sorts of videos from YouTube of our emigrants and beat my wife. All these eight years, I dripped on her brains that we should bring down, and she probably already got used to the fact that I talk all the time, but do nothing.
In 2022, the Rubicon was crossed, says Roman. He decided to go to Argentina, but his wife refused to go with him:
“For fifteen years of marriage, I screwed up a lot. I was an abuser and I probably did everything so that she did not feel confident with me. It was such that I drove her out of the house at four in the morning. And it’s one thing when this happened in Moscow and she had somewhere to go because her husband was a tyrant and a despot, and if this happened in Argentina, she wouldn’t know where to go.”
After the move, Roman tried to persuade his wife to change her mind, but in November they decided to leave. He later tried to get in touch with his father:
“I unblocked him, wrote him a big message, which consisted of two parts. The first part is about the fact that there are points on which I fundamentally do not support him and I think that he simply has no right to behave this way. And the second part of the message was about the fact that I am very grateful to him for everything he gave me. And I am very grateful to my dad for that. “It’s not normal that we don’t communicate, so let’s just keep in touch,” I wrote.
The father was surprised at his son's message, but was very touched: “It was the father's answer. It wasn't the response of a box-zombified dude." Roman suggested to his father that they never talk about the war again, but now they don’t have the communication that they had before, and Roman is not sure that they can return to this format: “I’m not eager, because it requires certain strength. I need to give a lot of energy to keep myself in check. He still no, no, yes, and descends on these topics, but it’s hard for me not to slide into controversy. So now we communicate, but rather on business. For example, I once called him, because the children did not answer the calls, and I knew that he was with them. In Argentina, Roman started a Telegram channel , where he describes his story.
crests suddenly became "Khokhols"
Olga is a political strategist, and because of the war she had a conflict with her parents. For several weeks she tried to explain to them what propaganda is and how it works, but it did not help:
“With the outbreak of the war, I got the feeling that some kind of toggle switch had switched in my parents’ head. When the Russians were bombing Kharkov, I called my mother and said: “Do you see what they are doing?” She replied that the Ukrainians were bombing Kharkov. And she believed the TV, not me. I just gave up.”
I called my mother, said: “Do you see what they are doing?” She replied that the Ukrainians were bombing Kharkov
For some time she did not talk to her parents, because she could not stand this communication, although before they talked every day.
Olga's parents, she notes, have always been adequate, normal people: dad is an academician, mom is a person with a higher education, "very smart, kind, understanding." “And suddenly some animal hatred turned on in them. Ukrainians, who had been Ukrainians all their lives, suddenly became “Khokhlov”, parents are sincerely, one hundred percent sure that there are Nazis in Ukraine. They are pensioners, they sit and watch TV all day, where they are told all this.”
Olga's parents "ardently supported the annexation of Crimea, perceived it as justice":
“The Pope still celebrates March 18 as the date of Crimea joining Russia. Parents, it seems to me, always wanted to return the Soviet Union. For them, as well as for Putin, the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe.”
At the same time, in general, Olga's father does not support Putin, as he believes that Putin is a protege of the West. But he likes Strelkov and Prigogine, says Olga:
“Prigozhin became sympathetic to him with the beginning of the war. Before the war, he was not shown on TV, but now dad discovered YouTube, endlessly watches all the videos about Prigozhin and respects him “like a man.”
Olga left a year ago and did not tell her parents that she was leaving for a long time, explaining her trip to Turkey by opening accounts in order to withdraw money from Russia. On September 21, when mobilization was announced, Olga's mother told her that perhaps her family did not need to return to Russia yet. So did her father. Olga did not argue and said that they had already rented an apartment for a year.
The older brother calls Olga a traitor to the motherland because she left. According to him, the military in Ukraine “beat crests, they protect Russia”: “He constantly writes some terrible messages to me, I would block him, but still my brother. He really wanted to volunteer, but the medical board did not let him through: he is already over 50. He has a son, and now he is forcing him to go to war. My nephew, thank God, understands everything and is not going anywhere.” Olga’s communication with her brother is limited to WhatsApp correspondence: in the evenings, he drinks, Olga suggests, and starts sending her videos of Ukrainians being killed, “just mocking,” she says. Olga tries not to answer her brother and not to keep up these conversations:
“Sometimes I want to tell him everything I think, including the amount of gray matter in his head. I try to hold on, because I know that he will complain to his mother. My brother is completely uneducated, he even rewrote the history of our grandfather in his head and said that during the Great Patriotic War he “beat crests”.
Now Olga continues to communicate with her parents, but very rarely touches on the topic of war: “I try to avoid this topic, because I understand that it will not work to convince me, but I don’t want to swear. But it seems to me that they are beginning to understand that something has gone wrong. Mom, for example, recently told me that we seem to be losing.
Parents should understand what is really happening, Olga is sure:
“I’m scared that they might die without knowing the truth. I really want that when the propaganda is turned off... how the Germans came to their senses after 1945, when they were taken on excursions to concentration camps... I want my parents to realize this too. I imagine how hurt they will be, how bad they will feel, but I want them to know the truth. I don't want my parents to live blind-eyed for the rest of their lives. I don't know what to do about it, but perhaps when the regime changes and Soloviev turns off, something will begin to change. So far, I don't see any way to bring the truth to them."
"Everyone will die, and we will go to heaven"
After the start of the war, Nikolai did not talk to his father for a year, he used to work "in structures, for the state", and now he has been retired for several years. According to Nikolai, his father was always quite calm about politics and ideology, he did not feel nostalgic for the Soviet Union: “He was an ordinary person - he traveled around America and Europe, he was fine with all this, there were no problems. Until 2014. After the Crimea, the paradigm in his head changed a lot. He began to often talk about politics from the point of view of patriotism - that there is a Russian state, but in Europe everyone is bad, the Americans are our enemies. When we met, he angrily began to prove all this to me.
Nikolai did not like this, but he was silent and did not argue with his father. As before, when they talked about other topics. They never spoke closely with their father, but they always supported each other, recalls Nikolai. Once or twice a month, he always came to his father, and in general, "everything was not bad."
Nikolai recalls that his father could "educate" him, but he never called him "an enemy of the people." Immediately after the annexation of Crimea, Nikolai found work in Europe and left. Since then he has not lived in Russia. The father was categorically against it. He never made this decision and all the time tried to persuade his son to return back. “About six months before the start of the SVO, I had dinner with my father in St. Petersburg, and we had a very strong fight. He started talking about Europe and the USA, he generally had such an idea that we should start a war, otherwise we just sit here and defend ourselves. I told him: “Well, do you understand that this will be the end of the world?” To which he replied, “Well, that’s fine. Everyone will die, and we will go to heaven.”
Nikolai's father often watches Channel One and speaks in memorized phrases, he notes. When the war began, Nikolai was in Russia, but quickly left, because it was not clear what to expect - maybe the borders would be closed, maybe martial law would be introduced or conscription would begin. Then he informed his father about his departure, and he reacted calmly. Later, Nikolai suggested that his father take tickets and fly to him in order to wait out what is happening abroad.
At that moment, they had a very strong fight:
“He said that everything is fine in Russia, but everything will be bad for me in Europe. Well, word for word, we ate, he accused me of suggesting that I betray his homeland. Even before that, he tried to put a label on me, they say, I am an enemy of Russia, an enemy of the motherland. I always tried to remain neutral at such moments, and he told me how wrong I was. And then he also told me that I was not Russian, I was talking with the Nazis, that the offer to betray my homeland was not help. After that, I said that I did not want to continue communication, and hung up.
He tried to put a label on me that I am an enemy of Russia, an enemy of the motherland
Nikolai doubts whether he did the right thing then: it was hard for him not to communicate with his father for so long, it was very painful for him.
Nikolay has no other acquaintances who would repeat the line of propaganda so harshly:
“Father’s Americans are complete fools, in Europe there are gays and degradation, the decay of culture, and Russia must rally to resist all this. Sometimes his views reminded me of nationalism - the Russians are the best, and the rest are very wrong.
At the same time, Nikolai says that his father is a very smart person, and notes that he always hoped that deep inside his father understood everything, but he couldn’t do it differently, “because he worked for the state, and is now thoroughly tied up and, if he - to tell another, then for him it is a very big risk ":
“If he changes his point of view, it will certainly be very difficult for him, but I think it's worth it. Because if people are not persuaded, then everyone will live in peace in their own invented world, and the things that are happening today will continue to happen. It's all based on the opinions of people like my father, including. People who think everything is fine."
Nikolai and his father did not speak for a year, but recently restored relations: Nikolai quit his job, and his father found out about this through mutual friends and wrote him a message in which he offered to return to Russia. “At that moment, I felt like I could talk to him. Before that, it was hard for me, but now it’s somehow easier. I called him and said that I had no serious problems, everything was fine. We started talking. It is very important for me".
After that, Nikolai met with his father in Russia and says that his father "calmed down", although he tried to talk about politics, "Ukrainian fascists" and "the collective West that wants to destroy Russia." Nikolai's father still wants his son to return. Recently, they most often communicate on the phone on general topics, they don’t talk about the war - this issue is raised only during personal meetings:
“He is trying to start telling me something about the fifth column, traitors. He also had a phrase that all the people who speak out against the SVO and left the country - artists, singers - that they do not like Russia. When it comes to other countries (European or, for example, Latin American), the opposition is a normal thing for him, because he is fighting against the authorities. But today's Russian opposition, in his opinion, hates Russia and wants to destroy it."