‘The city where I live is bombed, but my mother in Russia doesn’t believe me.’

Alexandra
Alexandra says her mother adopted the rhetoric of Russian state television

Alexandra has been hiding in the bathroom of her apartment with her four dogs since the Kharkov bombings began.

“When I first heard the explosion, I went outside and took my dogs home. People were terrified, they were leaving their cars and running, and I was very scared,” he said.

Alexandra, 25, speaks regularly on the phone with her mother in Moscow.

But he says that although he took videos of the bombings in his town and sent them to his mother, he could not explain to her what happened:

“I did not want to intimidate my parents, but I started telling them that civilians and children were dying.

“While they are concerned about me, they continue to say that such incidents were accidental, that the Russian military will never target civilians, that the Ukrainian military has killed its own people.”

Many Ukrainians have relatives in Russia. And a significant portion of them have very different ideas about what is happening in Ukraine. Alexandra thinks that this is because of the rhetoric of the state-controlled Russian media.

Alexandra describes her mother repeating what she heard on TV:

“I was scared to see my mother speak like a Russian announcer. People believe her and they are brainwashing the public.

“My parents know there is a military operation going on here. But they say, ‘The Russians are coming to rescue you. They will not harm you, they will not touch you. They are only targeting military bases.’ “

While talking to Alexandra, the gunfire continued. We continue to communicate through voice messages as the internet connection is weak.

“I forgot what the silence was like. The bombing continued,” he said.

But at the time, there was no news on Russian state television about the bombings of Kharkov’s settlements, the deaths of civilians or the deaths of four civilians who died while waiting for water.

Russian channels say the war was caused by the Ukrainian aggression and described it as a “special liberation operation.”

If the Russian media uses the words war, occupation or attack, they risk being banned for “deliberately spreading confusion about Russian troops.”

Popular TV channels are told that it is not the Russian military that threatens Ukrainian civilians, but Ukrainian nationalists use them as human shields.

Although some Russians took to the streets in protest of the war, state television did not broadcast it.

Mikhailo, who runs a restaurant in Kiev, says he doesn’t have time to watch Russian TV.

When the bombing began in the Ukrainian capital, they just wondered how he and his wife could save their six-year-old daughter and baby.

Her children woke up at night to the sound of bombs and began to cry. After that, they moved first to Kyiv and then out of the country.

Taking his family to the Hungarian border, Mikhailo then returned to western Ukraine to support the resistance.

He was surprised that his father, who worked at a monastery near the Russian city of Novgorod, never called them.

When he called his father to tell him what had happened, his father said it was not true, he said, “No, there is no war, the Russians are saving Ukraine from the Nazis.”

Mikhailo says he was aware of the Russian state’s propaganda power before that moment, but was devastated when he heard it from his father:

“My own father doesn’t believe me. Although he knows I’m here and I’ve seen it all with my own eyes. And my Mao is here.

“My grandmother and I are hiding in the bathroom to avoid the bombing.

The Russian media has been under intense state control for years, and criticism of Russia’s actions has not been covered in the media.

University of Glasgow political communication and Russia expert said. “State speech has always portrayed Russia as a good man,” said Joanna Sojostek.

“His remarks about World War II indicate that there was nothing wrong with Russia. So no one in Russia believes what happened today.”

Noting that a significant portion of Russians do not feel the need to research other opinions, Szostek said that is why many Russians do not trust their relatives in neighboring countries:

“Those who criticize Russia are portrayed as ‘traitors’ or ‘agents’ who are described as working for the West. That’s why you don’t trust your own daughter.”

Anastasia’s parents live in a small village 20 kilometers from the Donetsk People’s Republic. The village is still under Ukrainian control, but only Russian channels are viewed at home. Even the clock on the wall of the house has Moscow time set.

So when he woke up to the sound of a siren in Kiev on the morning of February 24, he explained how he had predicted how his family would react:

“As soon as I got out of bed at five in the morning, I called my mother. She was very surprised when I called. Her voice was very calm.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Ukrainian service, Anastasia said she heard explosions when she woke up and was worried.

“I called my mother again, I told her I was scared. Don’t worry, Russia will never bomb Kiev,” he said calmly, “Anastasia continued:

“I told them that the bombing had already started and that the civilians had died.

“But that’s what we did during the bombing of Donbass in Ukraine,” he replied with a smile.

“I couldn’t breathe for a second. It broke my heart that my mother said so cruelly.”

Anastasia says the Russian media told her that “the glorious Russian army has liberated Ukraine from the Nazis.”

He says he has avoided political discussions with his family for years, but this time he hangs up the phone.

While Anastasia was talking to us, she was on her way to leave Kyiv after four days in the bunker.

He remembered the uncertainty of the future:

“I have a lot of thoughts going on in my head. What will happen to us? How long will this conflict last? Will I ever be able to return home? Will I ever see my family again? I love them so much, but something inside me is broken It will be good. “

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