November 01, 2023

Then and Now

Then and Now
At the Russian-Georgian border, September 2022.

Last September, after a fall mobilization was announced in Russia, an estimated 500,000+ young Russians fled the country to avoid being sent to fight in Russia's War on Ukraine. We asked a few who fled to share their story from last year, and an update on where they are now.


On one hand, it was a relief to have gotten out, but on the other, I keep seeing my mother and sister slowly descending the stairwell behind me and waving goodbye. They were saying: “Nikita, come on, we’ll come visit,” but it was unclear how long I’d be leaving for and whether we’d ever see one another again. The day I was scheduled to fly out, my grandmother had a stroke and almost died. It was just awful. Grandma was lying there; Mama was somehow holding it together, even though it was her mother; my sister was crying. I became hysterical; my hands were shaking, and I was a total mess when I left. And the whole way, it was as if this wasn’t happening to me: I couldn’t feel the ground under my feet and didn’t know what would happen next.

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