In Prague, Russians stand in solidarity with Ukrainians | War in Ukraine

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In Prague, Russians stand in solidarity with Ukrainians | War in Ukraine

In the Czech Republic, members of the large Russian diaspora have decided to lend a hand to refugees Ukrainians, who have arrived in large numbers in this Central European country since the start of the conflict.

Russians in Prague are organizing guitar lessons for young Ukrainian refugees.

PRAGUE – “Slava Ukraini” . It is with these words, which mean “glory to Ukraine”, that the refugees end the Ukrainian song they have sung over a few piano chords.

Every weekday evening, after the school day, workshops like this singing lesson, but also guitar and gymnastics, take place in the premises of a school in the historic center of Prague.

Several of these activities are organized and financed by members of the Russian community in the Czech capital.

We did not feel guilty but responsible towards our country, explains Anton Litvin, one of the organizers of these courses. What could we do? What should we do? he wondered.

For Anton Litvin, a Russian living in Prague, helping refugees was a way of getting involved after the outbreak of war.

Several members of the Russian community in the Czech Republic, which numbers 30,000 people, have expressed their opposition to the conflict by organizing demonstrations critical of the Kremlin. But Anton Litvin, who took part in these gestures of protest, felt that this was not enough.

This Russian, who had been living in Prague for several years, judged that the best way to help the Ukrainians, more than 450,000 of whom have been exiled to the Czech Republic since the start of the conflict, was to take care of the children.

“Ukrainian children arrive in this country without a father, without friends, without a command of the language, without money and without an apartment. These children find themselves in a very serious situation. »

— Anton Litvin, Russian national living in Prague

Young Ukrainian refugees take singing lessons after school .

A group of Russian nationals, of which Anton Litvin is a member, has therefore joined forces with those of Czech organizations which also organize workshops to promote entertainment or the integration of Ukrainian refugees.

We think it's important because Ukrainians can meet other people here and make friends, says Maria Ambrovskova, coordinator of the center which offers extracurricular activities.

I'm looking to make acquaintances, confirms Alexandra. This young woman, who arrived alone in Prague, multiplies her activities. Gymnastics, Czech lessons and singing workshops fill the evenings of this young woman, who admits that she is also looking for a distraction from reality.

Czech language lessons are offered to Ukrainian refugees in the historic center of Prague.

Pavel Oskin, who has lived in Prague for 14 years, has decided to lend a hand in another way: by providing shelter for refugees.

Shortly after the outbreak of war, this Russian exile decided to transform a former commercial space on the outskirts of Prague into a hosting center.

We had no money, only donations collected through Facebook, he explains.

Today, this center, which hosts about 70 people also receives financial support from the Czech government.

Soon after the start of the war, Pavel Oskin founded a shelter in outskirts of Prague.

The help is appreciated by the women and children who live in this establishment, which has several bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. Especially since it is difficult for Ukrainians to find accommodation in Prague, a city where the offer of accommodation for refugees is saturated.

The most important thing is c is to have a roof, warmth and food for your children, says Lludmilla, who shares a room with her three children.

Despite his opposition to the war and the creation of this shelter, Pavel Oskin recognizes that contact with certain Ukrainians he meets in Prague is sometimes difficult. For them, I am Russian, and a Russian is in a way the enemy. I understand that, he explains.

But in the center he set up several months ago, the Russian explains that links have been forged in despite nationalities.

“We are like a family. The children hug me and I hug them. »

— Pavel Oskin, Russian national living in Prague

Olena (right) left Bakhmut region, Ukraine . She now lives in a shelter in Prague.

In the kitchen, Olena, a refugee who left the Bakhmut region, which is currently at the heart of the fighting, is grateful to have help in this city located more than 2000 kilometers from her home.

Whether you are Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Tajik or English, the important is to do good, she says.

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