The anguish of Ukrainians in Barcelona: “I can’t think of anything else, I’ve been shaking all day”


with flags of Ukrainetraditional flower crowns and posters imploring the end of the war or what they pointed to Vladimir Putin as a murderer. The Ukrainian community in Barcelonawith a heavy heart, has manifested this Thursday in front of the Russian consulate in the Catalan capital to show his total rejection of the war in his country. Many of those present have relatives in the country and are totally sorry. and start to organize to send all the help that is necessary -food or basic necessities- to his countrymen. For their part, the NGOs hope that Spain will open up safe channels for welcome refugees who want to flee the country and prepare to welcome them.

Behind the flags and the chants of “Killer Putin” hides Alina, a young dancer who cries glued to the mobile phone. “I’m talking to my parentsthey are hiding in a basement because they are throwing bombs next to the house“, she says with a small voice. This girl came to Barcelona four years ago to study for a doctorate. Her parents are doctors and work in one of the hospitals in Kiev. “They live near the military airport and the bombs there are constant”, She explains a while later, already a little more serene. This Thursday she woke up at six in the morning with a call from her mother. “When you hear the bombs and they tell you that they are fine, not to worry… that’s when you have the worst time, I can’t think of anything else, I’ve been shaking all day“, he adds. “People have to understand that this is a world war and that it’s not just about us, it’s a direct attack on the whole of Europe and our freedoms“, he points out.

The anguish in the diaspora

“We are very nervous, it is very scary to see how bombs are thrown next to your house, I never imagined that this would happen… I cannot explain it to you with words. But I do not want to leave here, we must defend our freedoms and our country, and I trust our Army a lot“, it says Larissa, a woman who lives in Kiev, speaking through the screen of Marina Shevchenko’s mobile. Marina and Larissa have been friends since childhood, but the latter came to live in Barcelona more than 20 years ago. “We have taken to the streets, we have demonstrated in front of the Russian consulate because we need to feel that we do something for our country“, the woman insists. The one who worries her most is her daughter, who lives in Kiev. “I’ve been telling her for weeks to go away, to come here with us, but she doesn’t want to, he prefers to stay, and it’s horrible“, he maintains.

Her husband, Sergii Gaponenko, was born in 1957 and grew up under the mantle of the USSR. “That was a dictatorship, we lived like slaves. Now in Ukraine we have freedoms, a constitution, we vote every four years… the country has changed for the better and has the right to be free and not return to slavery,” concludes Sergii. “Last week we concentrated on the Ukrainian consulate already From there we began to organize. We are in a Facebook group and we are helping each other “, he says about the concentration this Thursday.

“Putin is worse than Hitler”

In the protest there were older people, but also very young people. For example, Dennis Cherednychenko, a 16-year-old boy who did not go to school this Thursday to attend, along with his parents, the protest. “It is very strong what is happening there. I have lived in Barcelona for four years but my grandparents and my whole family are in Kiev“, he explains. “This is not just a war against Ukraine, this It’s a war against the whole free world“, says the young man. The father, Andrii, spends the day hooked on the phone. “Every hour I try to make a call, to find out how our parents are, we are very worried,” he maintains. Meanwhile, he hangs up some posters. It is a photograph of Hitler but with the face of Putin.”This man is worse than Hitler, Europe must be united against him“Andrii maintains.

Nor did Irina hesitate to attend the concentration. “I woke up to a call from my brother and I myself could hear the bombs. I don’t wish anyone had to hear this“, he says. Many of the concentrates report cases of anxiety, insomnia problems and stress. “And the worst thing is that we can’t do anything, because my relatives don’t want to leave either,” says Irina. To organize and send aid to the country, some citizens in Barcelona are thinking of collecting money or essential products to send to their compatriots. “We are starting to look at how to do it, we will enable an account number and we will coordinate with the consulate,” says Diana Malysh.

Russians against the war

A few meters from the concentration in front of the consulate, a group of about four people showed a poster with the Russian flag where you could read “Russians against the war”. I wore it Yulia Taran, a girl born in Russia who emigrated to Spain more than 20 years ago. “This is inadmissible barbarismwe are against Putin and obviously against this war”, she explains. She fled from hunger and poverty in the country during the perestroika years. “In Russia there is no freedom. My candidate for the presidency of the country is in prison. Others have been killed. Putin is a thousand times worse than VOX and the extreme right, it is pure hate. He defends the killing of gays, women … “, he complains.

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Likewise, the NGOs in Catalonia are preparing to welcome people who flee the country and request asylum in Spain. The Red Cross It has not yet activated any device to attend to Ukrainian refugees, but sources from the entity predict that it will be “inevitable” in the coming weeks, if the conflict continues to escalate. “At the moment we do not have cases but we are waiting for the Ministry of Migration organize safe routes or a possible evacuation of civilians,” explains Jorge Jarillo, deputy director of the Català Refugee Assistance Committee. “We are preparing for it and to set up places,” he adds. It is not the first time that the refugee aid system refugee has to face an exodus of Ukrainians.In 2016, after the crisis in crimea, were the first community with the most asylum requests in Barcelona. No one doubts that this will happen again.


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