Russian-Ukrainian conflict: a podcast with Luba Kolomytseva, artistic director of NR, born in Kharkiv

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A child watches from an evacuation train from Kharkiv to Lviv at the central station in Kiev, Ukraine, March 4, 2022. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Luba Kolomytseva is the artistic director of National exam. I met her on my first day at NR — in November 1998. We talked about Ukraine and Russia. And identity: Who is a Russian? Who is Ukrainian? What is a Soviet? etc Since then, we have talked about Ukraine and Russia from time to time. Today we recorded a podcast: here.

Luba was born in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, the country’s second largest city. It was a vibrant and diverse city, says Luba, filled with artists, scientists and people from all walks of life. Today it is a hellish landscape, bombarded and brutalized by Vladimir Putin and his forces.

Kharkiv is almost entirely a Russian-speaking city. The Kremlin and its propagandists – many of them in the US media – have long told us that the people of eastern Ukraine want to be in Russia. Putin said he was invading Ukraine in order to protect Russian speakers.

Lie upon lie upon lie. Putin and his men murder them and any other Ukrainians they can find.

Luba is eloquent about his Russian-speaking compatriots in Ukraine. It’s not the language that counts, she says. It’s your sense of belonging. Your family. Your friends. Your connections. Right now, she says, everyone feels more Ukrainian than ever. People are disgusted with Russia, and some of them are embarrassed: embarrassed to share a language with invaders and destroyers.

People in Russia, says Luba, are being fed lies by their state media. “The level of lies is incomprehensible. You can’t even understand how someone can lie like that.

Luba was glued to the news. “It was torture,” she said. “Now I really feel Ukrainian. It’s like someone is torturing my loved ones in front of me and I can’t do anything about it. I can not sleep. I read, and I hope every day that it’s going to end, and the next day other horrible things happen.

She sees the faces of Kharkiv, in particular. She knows them. She does not know these people personally. Specifically. But she recognizes faces — looks of the people – of his childhood. With the whole scene, she is familiar. “I know them,” she says, “and I love them, because there’s so much to love about all these people.”

Putin hates America, she said, and he hates the West. He considers himself to be at war with the West, whether the West knows it or not. “He has nothing to lose,” Luba says, “and he has a criminal mind and a sick mind. A lot of people think he’s literally a psychopath. He doesn’t seem like a psychopath to me. diabolical, like in a James Bond movie.

Luba asks, “What is the West waiting for?” She adds, “We need to stop this and realize that evil exists in the world and you can’t just be passive and watch it; you have to do something about it. We must protect our world, our way of life and our ideals. It’s immoral for us not to do anything about it.

This is the opinion of a woman. You may well have another. But it’s an opinion I value, and Luba Kolomytseva is a very interesting person to know, and many will love to hear, in this exceptionally personal, and also informative, podcast: Again, here.

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