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“I have never considered myself Russian, although my mother is the granddaughter of a priest from Velikie Luki (a town on Russian Pskov Region). I have Jewish, Ukrainian and Russian ancestry. But what makes me Russian at once is the Russian language. And a Russian passport of course, which I have failed to change in 28 years in Germany, I did not consider it necessary, and now I understand that it was in vain.

When the war started, I was overwhelmed by endless pain, helplessness and even - a very rare feeling for me - anger. But once you start doing - there's no room for them, and that's salvation. Right now, I'm pulling out all the stops and I don't have time or energy left for doubts and reflection. You can't stop acting, otherwise everything will fall apart.

There’s so much to do. We were meeting with politicians who needed news from the fields - and we worked in those fields - to solve many, many practical issues, such as the rapid recognition of teachers' diplomas, free parking for Ukrainian cars, and so on and so forth.

We were meeting Ukrainian families round the clock, settling them, helping them with documents. Then it transpired that we needed to do something apart from this formal help, so we organised support in "Panda" (famous Berlin platform, focusing on Russian-speaking art and culture): psychologists for adults, artists who work with children, and a safe space, where you can just keep silent, and if you want to speak out, they will listen to you and try to help.

Networking for Ukrainian and Berlin artists, a therapy group for burnt-out volunteers, endless fundraisers for Ukraine, and even events where Russian and Ukrainian poets perform together (a rarity and an honour for us) - I am so grateful that I have the chance to do all this.


The most important thing now is to keep going”.

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