“Even in the most bombed cities, people continue fiercely to go to work, to create businesses, to cultivate themselves”

Paris, May 10, 2024

Dear readers,

Sasha sends me little photos with green, almost flowering chestnut trees. I love this time of year in Kyiv [Kiev, en ukrainien], it has a very particular smell that I can smell just by closing my eyes. With Orthodox Easter and especially my sister’s birthday, it’s usually a time when we have a lot of opportunities to get together as a family. But, this year, I will not be by their side. I can’t afford to leave with an infant: the attacks of the rachists [contraction de « russes » et de « fascistes »] are very regular.

These memories take me back to the time when I sang in a rock band. I was a little over 20 years old and, with a very good friend, we spent our evenings going out and going to concerts. Her name is Sonya. She still lives in Kyiv and has two children. I called her recently by video. She has hardly changed: still with her flamboyant red hair! But she has a new tattoo that I’ve never seen before, the letter “i”, in yellow and blue, in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Let me explain: it is a letter specific to the Ukrainian Cyrillic alphabet, which differentiates it from the Russian alphabet.

Getting this letter tattooed has become very common among Ukrainians. I asked her if she wasn’t afraid that one day, in Europe, people would see this tattoo as a symbol of nationalism. She replied that any confusion in understanding the term “nationalism” disappears with the first missile that flies over your head! Rather, it is true patriotism, love for one’s homeland.

Another change in my friend Sonia: the language she speaks. She comes from Sumy, a Russian-speaking town not far from the border with Russia. [Olga et Sasha ont choisi de ne pas mettre de majuscule à « russe » et à « russie »]. Since February 24, 2022, she only speaks Ukrainian and everything she watches or listens to is in Ukrainian. She told her children, aged 6 and 9, who were watching the TikTok accounts of Russian influencers that, by doing so, they were allowing them to earn money and therefore pay taxes to the government which buys the bombs sent to them. father at the front.

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It worked very well: his son switched to English-speaking TikTok! Sonia’s husband is a doctor, he went to the front a year ago, where he is a lieutenant in a medical unit. Since he had been training for a month and a half, they expected him to be called up. His team evacuates the wounded of the assault troops.

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