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Ukrainians in St. Petersburg. Talking about their homeland and the loved ones

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Family and friendly ties between the two brotherly nations have been sliced like the famous Kiev cake. Just not so long ago, people whose only difference is the color of their passport would sit at the same table and eat it. But today life is no longer sweet for anyone

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 If it was made by Ukrainian hands, it means its Ukrainian. Although made in Russia.

And 200 years ago, Daniila Chicherina’s great-grandmother made dough in the very same pot – living in the village of Kovalivka of Ukraine’s Ternopol region.

Daniila moved to St. Petersburg because of love. 38 years ago, Lenfilm’s crew was on a shooting location in Lvov – for the “Sicilian Defense” film. Daniila’s future husband was in charge of the cast. She cannot forget her native village and goes there every year.

  • My soul hurts so much. When all this trouble started to happen, I separated myself from uncomfortable questions. I switch to Ukrainian immediately and get offended.

March 18, 2018. St. Petersburg. Theatre actors – also bloggers – walked into Nevskiy with placards saying “I am from Russia, let’s hug”. Roman Pritula – one of the participants.

  • I stood there for 15 minutes and every other person gave me a hug. If they didn’t give me a hug, they smiled. Some even passed us, turned around and walked back to us. Yeah, it happened.

  • Your colleagues did the same in Kiev. How did it go for them?

  • Well, they had some negative reactions, but it was mostly hugs and more hugs.

December 9, Kiev. Bloggers hit the streets again, took a Russian and Ukrainian flags instead of the placards.

  • The walked in Central Kiev. One actor had the Ukrainian flag, the other carried the Russian flag. They just walked and didn’t bother anyone. Did not talk to anyone. The negative reaction did not really come from the ordinary people – although some did try to take their flags. The negative reaction came from the police. And they were detained.

She is Russian, he is Ukrainian. There are millions of such marriages across the post-Soviet space. Professor Martynenko’s family avoided a split. The same cannot be said about relations with other Ukrainian compatriots.

  • Even some members of the diaspora here have split from others. Two groups – nationalistic and mild, tolerant. Some went vocally critical at meetings. But then it calmed down. A Ukrainian girl who now lives in the Netherlands wrote to us – you are so strong if you are able to survive in the heart of the horrible Russia. They think that those who are working with Ukrainian culture in St. Petersburg are some sort of underground guerillas, who are trying to survive among the evil Russians.

Igor Kashuba changed Dnipro’s banks to those of the Neva because of obligatory conscription back home. He studies to become a psychologist in St. Petersburg and teaches Ukrainian to friends. His parents are in Kiev. His friend forsaken him.

  • When I watch Ukrainian channels, all they say is how evil the Russians are. I came here and whenever someone learnt where I was from, all I could see is willingness to help. Kindness, respect and compassion. Thank God that I left. Many people I know were forced to join the armed conflict and they are now mentally traumatized. I feel sorry for them.

The collection of St. Petersburg’s only museum of Ukrainian culture has not been replenished for the last 5 years. Towels, ethnic garments and musical instruments – Ekaterina Danilovna brought all of this from her home village of Derevki, in Ukraine’s Poltava region. Way before the Maidan Revolution. Friends from the village called Ekaterina Danilovna “zradnitsa” – which translates as “traitor” from Ukrainian.

  • Friendships have been lost. We have had such strong arguments! I tried to prove something to them, but it has all been futile. Everyone’s very angry. But after one year, they called me. Let’s be friends again. Come here, Ekaterina Danilovna. Everything’s peaceful here, don’t be afraid. But there are no direct planes or trains.

Maria Evsyukova, reporter: “Family and friendly ties between the two brotherly nations have been sliced like the famous Kiev cake. Just not so long ago, people whose only difference is the color of their passport would sit at the same table and eat it. But today life is no longer sweet for anyone”.

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