Monday, November 28, 2022

‘There’s a reason we left’; Russian MSU students react to invasion of Ukraine

March 22, 2022
<p>Linguistics freshman Zhanna Yakubova looks serious for her portrait, taken March 22, 2022. </p>

Linguistics freshman Zhanna Yakubova looks serious for her portrait, taken March 22, 2022.

Photo by Madison Norfleet | The State News

Most MSU students have the privilege of keeping up with Russian war efforts through headlines and social media posts and the security of knowing none of their loved ones are involved in the conflict.

But for some students like linguistics freshman Zhanna Yakubova, who moved from Russia to the U.S. four years ago, the war directly affects their families. She says her parents live on “Russian time” now, constantly keeping up with each and every move. 

“They just don’t sleep,” Yakubova said. “Looking at the war outcomes every day (is) very stressful.”

Yakubova says she has seen posts on social media that say Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ratings have gone up recently. She thinks this misleads people in the U.S. to believe Russians support the war. 

“Whenever there is a war in a country, the president’s rating goes up, no matter if they’re right or wrong,” Yakubova said. “Because the citizens are too scared to do anything about it.”

Yakubova said she’s been losing some of her friends that still live in Russia due to their reaction to the war. 

“They believe the propaganda from the T.V.,” Yakubova said. “They don’t understand why Russia is the aggressor.”

Not all of Yakubova’s friends in Russia support the war. However, she said the ones against it are afraid to protest against it or post anything online about it for fear of being jailed or hurt.

“Russians want to help and want to leave, but they can’t because they’re so stuck in the country,” Yakubova said.

For now, Yakubova said her family is constantly looking for ways to help Ukraine, from sending bulletproof vests to organizing a rally in Detroit. 

Mechanical engineering senior Daniel Mondrusov’s parents moved to the U.S. in 1991. 

“There’s a reason we left,” Mondrusov said.

Mondrusov’s father left Russia when he did because he foresaw this kind of conflict happening. He said his dad always knew, in the back of his mind, Russia wasn’t putting its people first.

Mondrusov has many connections to people in Russia and Ukraine – two being his grandparents, who still live in Russia. 

“They’re still stubborn in the way that they don’t want to leave their country,” Mondrusov said. “They don’t want to leave the place they’ve been their entire (lives).”

Mondrusov said his family has been nervous about how the conflict could escalate – including both the wellbeing of his family in Ukraine and the retaliation against Russia. 

In the meantime, his family has stayed up to date with everything happening. Mondrusov said doing so has been harmful. 

“(My dad) has been constantly watching all the footage, all the (changes), trying to stay as updated as he can,” Mondrusov said. “Probably not to his own benefit because it’s some really stressful stuff going on. Especially when you’re kind of pumping that into your system all the time.”

Mondrusov said his peers have been supportive, and he hasn’t faced any misconceptions regarding how he might feel about the war. 

“I don’t know anybody that sees Russia in the right or doing something that’s beneficial in the long run,” Mondrusov said. “There’s no debate around it; there’s more just worry about the outcome.”

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