Ukrainians in Spain

Text: Fernando Sánches Alonso – XL Semanal

They came to Spain because the social and economical situation in Ukraine became complicated, but they could not have imagined that their country would become the centre of the conflict threatening to destabilise the entirety of Europe.

Pro-European: Yana Palatkina, 16 years old (9 in Spain) 

“Before Maidan, I was ashamed of my country.” 

“I ran away from home because I wanted to be on Maidan,” says this Odesa-born student, who has lived in Madrid with her mother for 9 years. When the protests started, Yana was on vacation in her mother city and she ran to Kyiv, the capital. “I left with my cousin. My parents knew nothing.” She confesses that before the revolution in Maidan, she was ashamed of her country. “I told everyone I was Russian. Today I would give every last drop of my blood to Ukraine. Ukrainian patriots like myself are not fascists. They have to inform themselves before talking and stop insulting us!”

Pro-European: Katryna Antoshkiv, 24 years old (6 in Spain) 

“Without Ukraine, Russia is a body without arms or legs.” 

This woman with a degree in business shows photos of some of the fallen on Maidan. Kateryna was born in the west of the country, and for her it was Putin, whom she calls the ‘bloody pacifier,’ who suppressed the protests. “Putin doesn’t want to let go of Ukraine because without us Russia is like a body without arms or legs. This is why he calls us ‘fascists.’ Our patriotism is not based on hatred. 20 000 Russians lived in my village and nobody threatened them for speaking their language; on the contrary, in the east of the country, if you speak Ukrainian, you are lost. We want to revive Ukraine and we are not alone. The international community supports us.”

Pro-Russian: Vitaliy Remezov, 38 years old (10 in Spain)

“They call us ‘terrorists’ for not wanting to sell our country to the IMF.” 

“Why are they calling us terrorists?” This 38-year-old engineer, who is now the leader of a construction crew, in Spain asks himself. “Just because we don’t want to sell our country to the IMF, for defending our language (Russian) from the ultra-rights and the US siege? The east of the country, which Europe ways is where the bad guys are, sustains the national economy. 70 per cent of the GDP comes from the east of Ukraine. There are only retired people and students in the west; the rest have emigrated.”

Pro-European: Kristina Drevnyak, 24 years old (6 in Spain)

“The genocide of my people at the hands of Stalin cannot be forgotten.”

“A part of my family is Russian, but I don’t speak with them,” says this young woman from Kyiv with a degree in tourism. “The horrors of Holodomor are not forgotten. This is how we call the genocide of our population in Stalin’s times in Ukraine. Today, all of this has returned with Putin. We don’t want to have anything to do with Russia. We want to look forward. He should leave us alone!”

Pro-Russian: Iryna Klymenko, 26 years old (12 in Spain)

“For Kyiv, we who speak Russian are second-rate citizens.” 

“The Kyiv government does not respect us. For them, we are second-rate citizens,” declares this young woman born in Donetsk, the region with the majorly Russian culture and language. A superior technician in the administration, she thinks that the US have been preparing for this moment for years. “The US only wants to put distance between Europe and Russia for its own interests. But if Europe wants to be powerful, they have to look more towards Russia than the Americans.”

Neutral: Svitlana Prysyazhnyuk, 36 years old (15 in Spain)

“Who are the good guys? Both gangs are manipulating us.” 

A translator in the Ukrainian consulate in Madrid, born in Lviv, in the west of the country, Svitlana confesses she is confused by the conflict. “We are being manipulated by both gangs. Ukraine is the excuse the US and Russia are using to show off their forces and divide world power. And meanwhile people are dying. Who are the good guys? The west of the country is agricultural, the east is industrial. More than having ethnic and cultural differences, they have two different views of the world.” The solution? “Maybe a federal state.”

Pro-European: Anatoliy Halchinsky, 58 years old (10 in Spain)

“We are fed up with Russia sticking its nose in Ukraine.” 

He works on construction in Madrid, where he has lived for 10 years, though in his mother city in the west of Ukraine he used to be a dancer. “One needs food to eat,” he explains. “Putin’s propaganda is only telling lies about the Ukrainian nationalists. He is calling us ‘fascists.’ And all of this because we love democracy and we protect our language, which has been prohibited by Russia for many years, and because we want to put an end to corruption and become closer to Europe. We are fed up with Russia sticking its nose in our business. We don’t have a choice: either Europe or chaos.”

Source: Finanzas

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina


2 thoughts on “Ukrainians in Spain

  1. Pingback: Ukrainians in Spain - Israel Foreign Affairs News

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