Political science graduate Yevgeny Zhukov used to personal a small espresso store in Moscow, however when the conflict in Ukraine started he determined to pack up and go away.
Becoming a member of the tens of hundreds of Russians which have fled their nation, Zhukov travelled to neighbouring Georgia the place he helped arrange an NGO to assist Ukrainian refugees.
“I could not face such injustice and do nothing,” Zhukov instructed AFP.
“I made the choice to get a passport and go to Georgia as a way to do one thing, to assist someway,” stated the 23-year-old, who now aids Ukrainian refugees get medical provides by way of the “Emigration for Motion” within the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
Down within the basement of the group’s headquarters — which is run by lately exiled Russians — Zhukov is organising cabinets with varied medicines which were delivered from an area pharmacy.
Lined up behind them are rows of neatly labelled brown paper luggage, every containing an order for a Ukrainian refugee or household that’s ready to be collected.
“Once we got here right here it turned apparent that we won’t simply do nothing,” stated one other founding volunteer referred to as Daniil who was moved to Tbilisi by the German political basis he works for.
He stated they seen there was a spot with offering free drugs for the hundreds of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Georgia.
Since beginning work in late April, the group has already helped greater than 250 Ukrainian refugees to get drugs, starting from fundamental painkillers to prescription medicine.
– Chilly welcome –
Now their pool of volunteers has grown to over 30 and extra refugees are getting in contact for assist, elevating fears that demand will probably be increased than their means.
The group funds their purchases with donations and organises varied occasions — like talks or movie screening — to lift funds.
Many Russians who moved to Georgia after the beginning of the conflict confronted a chilly welcome from locals with reminiscences nonetheless contemporary of their very own battle with Moscow in 2008.
However Daniil stated they have not skilled any negativity since organising, both from Georgians or Ukrainians.
“Not solely can we need to assist however we additionally do not need to deny that we’re Russians. That is why we’ve got the flag exterior,” the 26-year-old stated, referring to the white-blue-white Russian opposition flag hanging at their entrance.
He admits that it might probably even be “a bit awkward” to obtain gratitude from the refugees that they’ve helped.
Amongst people who reached out to the group is Nikolai, who fled the southern Ukrainian port metropolis of Mariupol which has since fallen underneath Russia’s management.
Collectively together with his spouse and two daughters, he determined to depart because the battle for the town was nonetheless raging, “operating underneath hearth” to flee the devastating siege.
– Doing ‘the appropriate factor’ –
The 40-year-old IT employee now lives in Tbilisi and “Emigration for Motion” helped him get calcium medicine that turned inconceivable to supply in Mariupol.
For Nikolai it would not matter the place the assistance is coming from.
“I do not confuse Russia with the those who management it,” he stated.
“It is advisable look no matter nationality or another traits of an individual, simply take a look at what sort of an individual one is by their deeds and actions,” he added.
However Zhukov admits that for him it’s “arduous” to course of that his nation — Russia — attacked its neighbour.
“I’m a citizen of a rustic that’s the aggressor, however I’m very reassured by the phrases of gratitude from the refugees,” Zhukov stated.
“In some ways, I’m working for my future. In order that when I’ve youngsters who learn historical past books and ask: ‘Dad, what did you do on this time?’ I can look them within the eye and say that I did the appropriate factor.”