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Photographer and volunteer Ivleva: I am the Russian person, and I see the service of Russia in supporting Ukraine G

Photographer and volunteer Ivleva: I am the Russian person, and I see the service of Russia in supporting Ukraine Viktoria Ivleva: I have no right to criticize Ukraine as the citizen of the country which put it into infinite sufferings, tortures and blood. But as th
Photo: Viktoria Ivleva / Facebook

The independent Russian journalist and the photographer Viktoria Ivleva in exclusive interview to the "GORDON" told how volunteer group "The army of ants" helps Ukraine and why volunteers from Russia go to be at war to Donbass. She also presented her new book "Mandrivka or Travel of a Facebook Worm across Ukraine" which was recently published in Kiev.

 By Tatyana Orel

Georgia, Armenia, Transnistria, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, African Rwanda … The Russian journalist and the photographer Viktoria Ivleva visited many "hot spots" of the world. Its pictures, stories and the essay were published in "Komsomolskaya Pravda", "The Moscow news", in Ogonek, in "The new newspaper" with which she cooperated in different years.

Ангола. Центр протезирования Международного Красного Креста. 2005-й год. Фото: Виктория Ивлева Angola. Prosthetic care centre of International Red Cross. The year of 2005. Photo: Viktoria Ivleva

В женской колонии Нижнего Тагила. 2013-й год. Фото: Виктория Ивлева Prison colony for women in Nijniy Tagil. 2013. Photo: Viktoria Ivleva

In the 1991st Victoria Ivleva made the photo report of the IV reactor of the Chernobyl NPP. It won a prize of the largest competition in the field of photojournalism of World Press Photo.

Центральный реакторный зал Чернобыльской АЭС. 1990-й год. Фото: Виктория Ивлева Central reactor hall of Chornobyl NPP. 1990. Photo: Viktoria Ivleva

"You never know when the history will begin, what person you will meet, and what destiny is waiting for you. Therefore never pass by – help others". She followed this principle always and everywhere, as well as in the summer of 2014th in Slavyansk where arrived as a volunteer to help to evacuate the locals.


7 days in Slavyansk. The story by Viktoria Ivleva. Video: Vasya Knish / Youtube

Today Viktoria collects humanitarian aid for Ukraine. But even earlier, at the beginning of spring, she arrived to our country to meet different people and to try to understand things that are happening on Donbass and how Ukrainians treat them.

She posted the impressions of that trip, video and photos on the page on Facebook. Then she collected all the materials in the book "Travel of a Facebook Worm across Ukraine" which the other day appeared in the Kiev publishing house "Spirit _ litera". It can be ordered on the site  of publishing house .

Viktoria became the guest in the last program in 2014 “Shuster LIVE” during which the politics summed up the results, discussed the forthcoming budget of Ukraine, argued, and quarreled for four hours – however, as always. But during three minutes provided to Victoria Ivleva she, having returned from the next trip to Donbass where thousands of people starve today, managed to tell things from which many people in studio could not hold  tears:

"When you bring to the old man a piece of meat, and he starts crying, I am ready to die from shame for all of us. He is not guilty for anything. He cannot go anywhere from there. He does not want to go anywhere from there, but it does not mean that we have to call him the terrorist and spit at him", – Viktoria Ivleva told.

Viktoria Ilvela. Volunteer's diary – Lugansk. Video: Mishel Vermishel / Youtube

In your country humanity is present at enormous quantity, and first of all at those who is involved in the volunteer movement

Viktoria, it is very important that people could read your book not only in Ukraine, but also in Russia. Will Russian reader have such an opportunity?

– you can find my book on my Facebook page in the form of separate texts. So, those who are interested, they could read them. Besides, the part of books is already in Moscow, the part we will bring, some we will extend somehow. Perhaps, we will print separate circulation in Russia. We will try to raise money by method of "national building".

– What did you memorize most of all during the spring travel across Ukraine described in "Mandrivka"?

– People’s bewilderment that Russia could intrude so perfidiously.

– The other day you took part in the program Shuster LIVE and said about the people who remained in occupied territories, so emotionally that many in studio could not hold their tears. You got into dispute with Yury Lutsenko when he told how his wife tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Donbass, but the machine was not passed by fighters. It seemed to me, you know about people of Donbass more, than the Ukrainian politicians …

– They know everything too. But they think only of billions, and I don’t know why they send their wives with a humanitarian escort as though it is advertizing pleasure walk.

– You’ve been to Donbass more than once – in the places, where politicians cannot appear because it is the enemy’s territory. Perhaps they simply do not see and feel so sharply from Kiev the way you do nearby?

– And what is distance got to do with that? I went there, already understanding something, not just to look. I communicated with volunteers. And who prevents the state to communicate with volunteers? Nobody. Communicate, interview others, ask them to write you reports. And, actually, what an intimate knowledge can be received there, after only visiting those territories? It's clear that it is hard for people there and they are terrified, isn't it? It is necessary simply to be simple a human being. In your country humanity is presented at enormous quantity, and first of all at those who is involved in the volunteer movement.

– And still if someone from politicians or the official figures that usually say abstract words would stand at a bed of the specific old man dying of hunger, their reaction to solutions on which life of people depends, would be faster.

– I somehow was trying to prove to one high-ranking person that there are still many patriots of Ukraine who for various reasons did not leave. Old men could not leave. Teachers remained to teach children, And the doctors? Do you think he would hang up the lock on hospital, leave, and let all people die out? If are a human, but not just a function, you won't leave. You will learn or cure even if the wounded fighter come because you are a doctor.

Don't ministers and politicians watch TV? Don't they hear stories how people try to survive there? Probably, the matter is that when the person enters the state position, in the our part of the world, he becomes boy Kai from the tale of the Snow queen, and, like this boy, make words from pieces of ice. And it is not clear when Gerda will arrive on deer to warm his heart.

– In conditions when fighters do not let a humanitarian escort from Ukraine enter, how the state can help the people who got to the extremely difficult situation?

– I consider that it would be necessary to use small groups of volunteers which have a local registration therefore they can easily pass the posts. Counters are full of the Ukrainian products in the market in Lugansk. After all someone brings them there – those cans couldn't come there on foot. Those people could take in addition some humanitarian freight for the state account. And the state could pay their services – after all not all are capable and want to be volunteers. It can be adjusted. There are a lot of food there, but people simply have no money that to buy it.

– They are told: "Leave, become immigrants …"

– And why people remained in occupied territories in the 1941st? The enemy then was more terrible – fascists. But it is clear that not everyone could leave. It is clear about the 1941st, but it's not clear about the 2014th or what?

Виктория Ивлева: Victoria Ivleva: "These are refugees. I saw them a lot in the different countries of the world. Now we can see them also in the neighboring country ..." Photo: Victoria Ivleva / Facebook

– You told very precisely in one of interviews: many of these people living on Donbass are nobody's, they will also remain lost everywhere: in Ukraine or in Russia...

– I have no right to criticize Ukraine as the citizen of the country which put it into infinite sufferings, tortures and blood. But as the inhabitant of the planet Earth I, probably, have the right to say some words. Agree: my country will answer in Hague court for what it did in relation to the people living on Donbass, but if there were no ground Russia could do nothing. This ground was created and supported by someone.

And where was the state? I read magazines of Lugansk regional administration for the 2008th year. It was written there that fascists are not allowed to discredit memory of heroes of Krasnodon. But who can quarell a feat of "Young Guard" – the faet of Serejka Tyulenin who burned the building of Gestapo with lists of people who were supposed to be sent to Germany, or Ulyana Gromova whose back was cut in a form of a red star before throwing into a hole?

Ukraine has a difficult history, and it is worth to remember about it: one its part, unlike another, was as a part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, another was a part of the USSR only in the 1939th, and they did not know what the collectivization, industrialization, GULAG and other "delights" of the Soviet entity were. It was necessary to connect two parts of the country when the break started. But, probably, nobody did that.

Most often I do not know the names of people who send money for the help to Ukraine. They can live worldwide. They visit my page on Facebook and for some reason they trust me

– All your volunteer posts in FB begin with words: "Army of ants is always in a system". Why "ants"?

– Once Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy created for children "An ant brotherhood" in Yasnaya Polyana. And my children visited wonderful classes in "Ant academy" in the Moscow museum of Tolstoy. I think, it is a good image of the imperceptible toiler which creeps with a straw on the ground, combining its efforts with efforts of others.

Most often I do not know the names of people which send money for the help to Ukraine. I am personally familiar only with few of them. They can live worldwide. They visit my page on Facebook and for some reason they trust me.

For the first time we raised money when I went to Slavyansk in the summer and was engaged in evacuation of locals there. It was necessary to pay drivers, to service vehicles, to buy tickets from Kharkov: for someone – to Russia, for someone – across Ukraine.

Then we raised some money for operation to the boy Dima from Slavyansk. He had a cataract of both eyes, and he was supposed to go in the first class to school for blind in which children with mental problems are engaged. And Dima is a very clever boy, he was able to read and write before school. I got acquainted with him in my last day in Slavyansk.

In five days he was examined by doctors in Kharkov, and in a week they operated his one eye. When after operation he opened his eye, he told: "Mother, you became lighter". In a month Dima second eye was operated. We collected so much money so that it was enough even for the same operation for his mother Natasha. Now Dima studies at usual school. The other day I visited him, he showed me how he reads and writes without glasses. Then, by the way, we could help one of Slavic hospitals, from where, as it appeared, Girkin's friends took out surgical tools.

Виктория Ивлева: Ivleva: "The other day I visited Dima, he showed me how he reads and writes without glasses". Photo: Viktoria Ivleva / Facebook

– How do you think why some Russians are affected by a TV propaganda and they become spiteful and aggressive, but others are ready to help Ukrainians?

– You know … Many of those who is at war on Donbass, consider also that they went to help. I am sure, none of these volunteers, simple people, will not tell: "I arrived to win this earth". They heard that there some "fascists" who kill people, therefore they go to protect children and women. They think that they do good serious work. It is special degree of foolness.

– But people such as Girkin, precisely go to Donbass not from noble motives …

– Girkin – the employee of intelligence services. I speak about ordinary people. Recently I watched a piece – Tomsk was left by the whole bus of young fools, and not really young. They consider that they are going to battle for a right cause. It is the huge tragedy. Probably, as on any war, on Donbass there is some number of bandits, but also there is a huge number of the deceived citizens of Russia. I talked to such people on posts. They are sure that they fulfill the duty, as well as it is necessary to men, – to protect.

– And even after arriving to Donbass where they already see the real picture with their own eyes, they still follow their idea?

– And what can they understand? Everybody shoots... For example, the shell got into the house, people, barefoot, naked jumped out from there, escaping from attacks, run on the village. My fellow citizens who arrived on war can see it. And their brains are full of Kisilev's propaganda. To understand a situation, it is necessary to find out who was the first to begin, why it turned out this way. Besides, these Russian rebels are hooked by the idea of "the Russian world" – we are the same people.

I think that responsibility of the one who got into this trap is much less, than responsibility of heartless people who thought up it and enclosed it into their head and sent them to the Russian war. Simple people are actually the essence of the Earth, to deceive them – is criminal and meanly. They are not obliged to be philosophers, the same as I am not obliged to be a plowman. In the honest country people are not involved into the war by deception.

– So it means, it will continue until "kiselevs" and "solovyevs" become silent?

– Once it will also move away. It cannot be eternally the same. Sooner or later the evil will devour itself. Any hatred once comes to a boiling point and blows up. But it's a big question when it will be at this end, and what bloody rivers will begin to flow instead of Yenisei, Lena, Ob and Volga.

I wish you to pass a test for humanity. It is very important

– They write that many people are leaving Russia

– And what it means "many" when there is 140 million? Let's assume that 150 thousand left Moscow …, Seems like it's nothing. But if it is the philosophical steamship - it is a lot of, of course.

– And how do your relatives take your dangerous work? After all you visited nearly all "hot spots" of the world. And you barely stay at home …

– I do not see anything dangerous in my work. It is the same if to discuss how it is difficult for the ballerina to do thirty two fouettés. But I never saw someone crying from pity for her in the auditorium. No, they sit and clap. The same in my profession also: it is live journalism, and there nothing unusual in it. And as for my relatives, now I have only my lovely dog, named Lenya waiting for me in Moscow. Children study in other country, parents live in St. Petersburg.

– The dog Lenya also has feelings …

– Of course, and my heart hurts also about him. I think, the next time I'll take him with me.

Виктория Ивлева на Майдане. Viktoria Ivleva on the Maidan. "These people died for that Ukraine was humane – from Lviv to Izvarino". Photo: Alexander Parkhomenko / Facebook

– What could you wish to Ukrainians and Ukraine which you support?

– What can possibly wish when there is a war? Peace, of course. And also I wish you to pass a test for humanity. It is very important. Comparing Ukraine to Russia, I see that your country did not roll down into cruelty, as mine. If you do not pass this test, I think, it will be treachery in relation to those who died on the Maidan. These people died for that Ukraine was humane – from Lviv to Izvarino.

I am the friend of Ukrainians, but I am the Russian person. And my service of Russia even if it will seem to someone strange, I see in supporting Ukraine. Perhaps, someone understands service differently, but I understand it this way. My mother, my teachers taught me not to lie. I, of course, lie sometimes, but very rarely because then I can't remember what I lied. Besides, I read an infinite number of books from the Russian literature which taught me to have conscience. That's all.

There are a lot of people who help Ukraine in Russia. But not all of them are journalists or public people. I feel even awkward from such amount of attention to me. One person wrote to me to Facebook: "Thanks to you, I cannot finally start hating Russia". It is very important for me.

It is a little inconvenient to me to meet such attention from colleagues in your country to me and my volunteer activity. Actually, there is a huge number of my Ukrainian companions-volunteers who do a million times more, than I, but, unfortunately, it is little said about them. With pleasure I can describe Natasha Kirkach and her team from Svyatogorsk who is selflessly betrayed to business, Katya Yaresko, Nadia Krivitskaya and Zhenya Kaplin – people from Kharkov, remarkable volunteers and beautiful people. It is a great pleasure to be on friendly terms with them and to work together.

The ant army does not know a nationality and frontiers.