My name is Anna. I was born and raised in Ukraine. I traveled a lot in India, Europe and Russia.
All my relatives were born and raised in Ukraine too. But it so happened that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of my relatives moved to live in Russia.
My grandparents tried to persuade my mother to move to Russia also, but we stayed in Ukraine.
Ironically, my own sister and I married men from Moscow. Therefore, we often visited Russia, but consciously continued to choose to live in Ukraine.
I must say that Russians have always treated Ukrainians with high regard. And we are have been very used to it. We were constantly indoctrinated with the idea that living in Ukraine is worse than living in Russia.
But it was a big lie.
I never wanted to live in Russia.
My sister’s husband and my husband moved over 10 years ago to Ukraine.
The main difference even then was that in Ukraine we felt much freer. We felt more empowered to do what we like. People were more relaxed and joyful. Crimea was the territory of freedom.
In November 2013, a revolution began in Kyiv. My daughter Rada was only 5 years old and I didn’t actively participate. My Russian husband and I lived in Kyiv. We went to support protests on the main square (Maidan).
In the spring of 2014, Russia occupied Crimea. My sister, her husband and two children ended up on Russian territory. It became difficult for us to see each other and it was difficult to get to relatives in Russia.
But that was only the beginning.
For 8 years there was a military conflict in the east of Ukraine in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
All of the 8 years we lived in Ukraine with the knowledge that there is a war going on in our country. But at the same time, everyone in Ukranian society accept the Russian people very well.
Personally, I think that I did not do enough to prevent the war that is now taking place throughout Ukraine.
I don’t know exactly what I could do. Maybe I could be more active in understanding this conflict and helping in the war zone.
Many of my friends tried to do something. But most of my friends in Ukraine simply turned a blind eye to this. And I did exactly the same.
We thought it wouldn’t happen to us.
In 2017, my husband returned to live in Russia. I couldn’t go with him for 3 reasons.
First, I didn’t like Russian politics.
Secondly, I could not and did not want to work in Russia. It would mean that I couldn’t make my dance performances and other work in Ukraine.
Thirdly, I did not want my daughter to go to a Russian school.
In 2020, my husband and I officially divorced. This divorce was not only due to the fact that I refused to go to Russia, but this partly influenced it.
In December 2021, I met a man from California at a Sufi festival in Turkey. His name is Aziz and he is a Sufi. We started a relationship.
In January 2022, Aziz started telling me that the war would start soon. But I couldn’t believe it.
I said that we have been living in a state of war for 8 years and nothing will happen.
In February 2022, Aziz came to me in Kyiv. He asked all my friends if they were afraid of the beginning of the war and they all answered that there would be no war. Then Aziz said: “You are like frogs in hot water.”
Unfortunately, it was true.
And in January, the United States withdrew its ambassadors from Ukraine. Aziz asked me to go with my daughter to Turkey.
My daughter, all relatives and friends said that I had gone crazy and there would be no war. Aziz returned to Turkey and took a promise from me that I would not stay in Ukraine under bombs.
I promised to leave at the first bombing.
He left on February 21 in the morning. And in the evening of the same day, Putin declared war. But in Ukraine, as before, almost no one believed in it.
On February 23, I came to my modern dance class. We laughed and joked with the girls that these exercises were our military training. And then it was a sunny day and we walked around the center of Kyiv. None of us knew that our peaceful life would end the next day.