“You have been told that this flame will bring liberation to Ukraine’s people. But the Ukrainian people are free. They remember their own past and will build their own future,” he reasoned. “They tell you that we’re Nazis. But how can a people that lost eight million lives to defeat the Nazis support Nazism? How can I be a Nazi? Say it to my grandfather, who fought in World War II as a Soviet infantryman and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine.” His pleas mere echos in the wind; three hours later, bombs struck their first targets in my native land. Today, much of my country stands in ruins.
The pain runs deep. The fear, the anger, the sadness—all compounded by Vladimir Putin’s lies–or “fake news.” How much of the Russian public is still in the dark about the war crimes committed in their name? I know there have been protests, but a swift crackdown has silenced most dissent, and the threat of a fifteen-year prison sentence at the outset of the war has made independent and foreign broadcasters close shop. Now there’s only one stream of consciousness, and that is from the Kremlin. Neighbors report each other to the authorities if the official version of the “special military operation” is questioned. The war continues. Journalists and pundits speculate what terror Russian troops might unleash at one of Ukraine’s nuclear plants. Is another Chernobyl possible?