I moved to Germany from Russia in the spring of 2014, just after the Winter Olympics. Putin attacked Ukraine then. This year is the Winter Olympics again and Putin has attacked Ukraine again. The moment I found out about the start of a full-scale war, there was only white noise in my head.
Then, like a Polaroid photograph, the contours of thoughts and feelings gradually began to emerge. Many of my Russian friends say that from the very beginning they felt guilt. But my first feeling was anger.
First of all I wrote to my friends in Ukraine to see if they needed any help. I still keep in touch with them every day, although I was prepared for someone to refuse to communicate further - if only because I am Russian.
However, since the start of the war, I have not heard a single bad word from Ukrainians about me. Both from my friends and from total strangers I helped while volunteering in Berlin. But I had to stop communicating with some of my acquaintances from Russia - war is a good indicator of who's who.
On the 24th of February I came out to the Brandenburg Gate with a poster "Russians against Putin's war". The Russian Federation has no monopoly on the Russians and Putin has no right to speak and act on behalf of the Russian people.
This war is not a war between Russians and Ukrainians, it is a war between old and new, between a neo-Soviet dictatorship and a free society which has chosen to de-communise. German communists, by the way, also support the so-called "special operation" and advocate the recognition of the so-called LNR and DNR.
The first shock has passed, but the anger remains. The Putin regime has stolen my Russia - my Moscow, my St. Petersburg and my Siberia. But even that is not enough - now it is trying to steal my friends' Ukraine. I will not forget it and I will not forgive!