4 Russians in the Netherlands: ‘He yelled if I shouldn’t be ashamed’

4 Russians in the Netherlands: ‘He yelled if I shouldn’t be ashamed’

Since their country decided to go to war against Ukraine, Russian citizens have been subjected to discrimination and intimidation. NU.nl spoke about this with two Russian-Dutch people who lived in or around them. This is their story.

“I cried”

Nadia, born in Russia, has lived in the Netherlands for fifteen years. She has two young children from her Dutch husband, who she raised bilingually. Nadia works in a large municipality in the Northern Netherlands.

“It was the third day of the war and while I was in the Naturalis museum with my husband and children, a strange man suddenly attacked me verbally. He threw up on me, probably because he overheard me speaking Russian to five of my friends. -year-old son.. He got very angry and said, ‘Aren’t you ashamed?’ yelled things like “.

“I won’t repeat what else you said, but my son has heard everything. I was really shocked and my eyes filled with tears. He was a young father my age with two young children. I think he was from Istanbul. Ukraine spoke to me in Russian so other people in the museum didn’t understand what was being said.

“Am I more skeptical? I hear that some Russians in the Netherlands no longer dare to speak Russian on the street, but I refuse to deny my identity and continue to speak Russian in public with my son. †

“Like many Russians, I have an incredibly deep sense of guilt towards Ukrainians. That is why I think we should continue to connect with each other. Putin really wants to differentiate between people and portray the West as a great enemy. We can be normal. So let’s not lose sight of the bond between them, otherwise we will help them achieve their goals.”

“My soul cries for all the Russian and Ukrainian children who were once sung by their mothers in the same nursery rhymes.”

“I am afraid of the reaction of Ukrainian refugees who come to the Netherlands. It can lead to tense conflicts. I can’t blame them either. They lost loved ones, they lost their lives, they lost everything. Registered as translators for Ukrainian refugees, many Ukrainians understand or speak Russian. Of course I’m afraid of their reaction, but I’m not burying my head in the sand. Let me help them too.

“I recently took a pack of diapers and Nutrilon to a Ukraine fundraiser in Amsterdam. A Ukrainian man opened the door and I told him I was sorry. ‘What do you say, what do you mean? I understand you. It’s perfect,” he said. It turned out that she herself is a Russian woman. This shows how intertwined Ukraine and Russia are.

“I feel helpless, deeply saddened and exhausted by the war. My soul cries for all those Russian and Ukrainian children who were once sung by their mothers in the same rhymes and now look at each other in the trenches with a crosshairs. Ukraine. For my brother and cousin, who has enlisted and will be called up at any moment, who does not want to fight for Putin’s absurd goals.”

“Are you for Putin or against Putin?

Elvira Yurievna Skiba, born in Saint Petersburg, has lived in the Netherlands for 26 years. He is director of Mozaika, the Russian Saturday school in Amersfoort, where children learn the language, culture and history of the country. Children of parents from Russia, but also from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia and other post-Soviet countries attend the school.

“My family and I have not yet faced discrimination. Often there is support and understanding from the people around me. However, a lot of hate and aggression was expressed in WhatsApp parent groups, especially by Ukrainian men. Also on our Facebook page: “Many hateful messages have been published on this page, some of which have been reported to the police. I have received at least twenty letters from parents about the safety of children.”

“The school itself is quiet. Some Ukrainian families are already – well – separated because they now find it difficult to enter a Russian environment, which is very understandable.”

“We’ve put in place a temporary rule: don’t talk about politics. I don’t want the school to become some kind of conflict zone. The school must remain an oasis of peace for children. They are not responsible for what adults do. As children ourselves, we will advise them about the war. They hear a lot, but don’t always understand. For example, some get difficult questions from other children at their school. In Dutch for example: Are you Russian or Ukrainian? Or: are you for or against Putin?

“The Russian language is what unites us, not what separates us.”

“Now I’m worried about the Ukrainian refugees coming here and how everything is going. Ukrainian children are welcome at the school, but we are always thinking about how we can help. We can offer in Ukrainian, but drawing, music and sports are possible. For example, we could open additional pre-school groups and perhaps provide psychological support as well.

“The most important thing is that the children return to their normal rhythm of life as soon as possible and that we provide them with a normal and safe environment where they can also speak Russian, because some Ukrainians speak Russian. It’s not what separates us.” But it is what unites us.”

“I also expect a little more cultural understanding from people. Don’t be shallow about excluding Russians and discarding Russian art, music, culture and literature. Russia and the Netherlands have such good historical ties that you simply cannot break them. So. why i think we live in a time where we have to take responsibility: see what your own values ​​are. Ask yourself: are the ones I really dislike about Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy?”

Source: NU