The Russian community reaches out to help Ukrainian refugees in Prague

The Russian community in Prague who oppose the disagree with the war are helping Ukrainian refugees with by transporting aid, donating supplies and more.


Written by ČTK Published on 17.03.2022 12:06:00 (updated on 17.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, March 16 (ČTK) – The Russian minority in Czechia has been actively participating in aid for people fleeing from the war in Ukraine. Russian representatives told ČTK it's natural that they would offer help as they have Ukrainian relatives and friends.

Some Russians living in the Czech Republic said they feel responsible for the steps taken by Moscow although they do not agree with them. They are trying to contribute to the improvement of the situation at least by supporting Ukrainian refugees. Social networking websites help them in this as well since the Russian and Ukrainian languages are close, and many Ukrainians speak Russian.

Among them is young businessman Filip Davydov, who transports humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian border in a truck. He decided to go to the border after the Russian invasion started and wrote about his idea on social networks. In five hours he gained enough money to buy everything that was needed.

"In my first fundraising, I received about CZK 35,000 in two days," he said.

He distributed the aid at the border and on the way back he and his friend drove three Ukrainian mothers with children to Czechia. He took food and medicine to the border again the following weekend.

If Davydov returned to Russia, he could have problems because of his participation in aid to Ukraine. When asked about it, he said he had no time to think about such things now.

Shortly after the launch of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian general prosecutor warned that Russian citizens may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for providing financial or material aid to Ukraine as it could be considered high treason.

"I realized that it is almost an honor to be prosecuted in Russia for actions such as support for opposition representatives," he said.

A Russian painter known as Nata Zaikina helps with accommodation for refugees in Prague. Her friend runs a network of accommodation facilities for newcomers from Ukraine. Zaikina and her partner Vladimir Tchebakhov equipped a kitchen of one facility, called Dům Dobrá (House of Good), which was originally an abandoned house in Prague's Florenc area. Zaikina said they obtained the money for it in an online auction of Tchebakhov’s paintings.

Zaikina also visits her Russian friend who is living near Prague and accommodating three young Ukrainian women with children. Zaikina is helping the children create art.

"I was afraid at first that the children would draw something sad. However, for example, they have drawn a lot of pink hearts or golden stars in a blue sky," she said.

She also said she is a member of a Whatsapp chat group where refugees write what they need, such as finding a baby carriage, contacting a doctor, or finding a job.

Yana from Siberia, who did not want to give her last name, said she felt guilty for what is happening in Ukraine.

"Who other than Russians could have prevented this? I cannot get rid of the guilt by saying that it was not me personally," she said.

Yana helped with sorting and wrapping the material aid organized by the Scout institute in Prague.

"All my friends here who are from Russia have been engaged somehow," graphic artist Anastasia Grigoryeva, who moved to Prague five years ago, said. She helped find accommodation in Prague for her friend from Ukraine and his colleague, and attended several demonstrations against the invasion of Ukraine.

Anastasia Serdyuk, who studies at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design (UMPRUM), along with another Russian student of Prague art schools, expressed their disagreement with the invasion of Ukraine in a video statement. They also do other volunteer activities.

Zaikina said she was afraid on the first day of the invasion about what her Czech colleagues at work would say to her. "But when I came to work, everybody asked me in a sympathetic way how I felt," she said.

She said she was a bit perplexed for a while and asked them whether they did not forget she was Russian, not Ukrainian, but they assured her they know it but thought she could have relatives or friends in Ukraine.

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