How the war in Ukraine is causing rifts in Russian families

As she discusses the war with her father, Uliana displays a shocked expression

As the coffin of Uliana's brother is lowered into the ground, she is sobbing.

The Russian soldier Vanya, who was killed in action in Ukraine, is being buried, and the actress, 37, is present. Vanya, 23, is described as having died a hero by Uliana. "I asked myself, 'What does it mean, like a hero?' It's ridiculous. I do not desire a deceased hero as a brother. ".

However, her father Boris, who is also grieving the loss of his son Vanya, is happy that his son gave his life protecting his nation.

According to his perspective, the conflict is a struggle against "a government that preaches fascism.". This assertion corroborates Vladimir Putin's statements that he is assisting in de-Nazifying Ukraine and that its government has committed genocide, both of which are unsupported by any evidence.

We didn't talk about the war, Uliana says of her relationship with her father before what happened with Vanya. But after he passed away, we got into some terrible arguments over it. ".

Uliana at her brother Vanya's funeral
At her brother Vanya's funeral was Uliana.

A father and daughter discuss the war in a recent BBC Storyville production. This debate is one that is currently taking place in many Russian families. .

Due to legislation that forbids any remarks deemed to defame the military or that refers to the military action as a war rather than a "special military operation," it is difficult to gauge how the country's citizens truly feel about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

However, a survey conducted in November 2022 by a private Russian research organization suggests that it is dividing generations; 75% of respondents aged 40 and over said they supported the war, compared to 62% of respondents aged 18 to 24.

As she traveled the nation to film the documentary, Russian filmmaker Anastasia Popova claims that this matched her own perception.

"I saw numerous breaks in various family units. The majority of their kids opposed the war, while their parents, who came of age during the Soviet Union and grew up watching [state-run] TV nonstop, supported it. She continues, saying, "I have the same rift in my family and my father supports the military action.

Continually consuming the official narrative of the Russian government requires relying on state television for news. Uliana and people in her age group are more likely to get their news from websites and platforms like YouTube and social media.

"Sorry" is not even close to capturing the depth of my sorrow," says Uliana.

She claims that the war has altered people.

"In Moscow, I observe people using the metro. After reading the news, they turn away. They are no longer exchanging glances. " .

Regardless of demographics, Popova emphasizes that support for the war is higher outside of major cities. She claims that while she was documenting Vanya's funeral in their hometown village of Arkhangelskoe, 60 miles [97 kilometers] outside of Moscow, it became apparent.

Uliana also discusses this moment of recognition.

Vanya died like a hero, a true patriot who defended his motherland, and it became clear to me as I was watching those people that they truly believed what they were saying, she says.

"I am aware that something is off. I never thought in my life that my brother would be brought to me in a zinc coffin, and what are our boys dying for, and who are we supposed to be saving there. ".

The sole son and youngest of four children, Vanya was also the youngest.

Uliana claims that he was a "golden boy.".

Boris explains, "He had a varied upbringing. "I invested everything I had hoped for in him—art school, music school, sports, etc. ".

Vanya joined a literary college in Moscow after moving away to pursue a creative writing degree while also acting in avant-garde plays, including ones at the Bolshoi Theatre.

According to Boris, Vanya suffered heartbreak as a result of falling in love with a woman who wasn't interested in getting married.

This is how it is in the theater. possessing unique worldviews. self-imposed moral and ethical standards. They don't have family values there; instead, men and women interact freely," claims Boris.

Before enlisting in the army, Vanya was very active in the Moscow art scene.

Vanya appeared to be very happy in the theater, but his father claims that it led to a mental breakdown in his son.

"He was not satisfied with their perspective on the world, that they are constantly critical of Russia, that Russians are insignificant to them, and that their ancestors and the entirety of Russian history are full of nonsense. He recognizes that he is not like that. About it, we spoke. How should he proceed?

So, Vanya and he decided that he should enlist in the military, according to Boris.

"For a career in the creative industries. You must have practical experience, says Boris. We decided that he should emulate the great authors and follow in their footsteps. That is the military. ".

Conscripted into the army, Vanya later decided to accept a military contract in search of new and interesting challenges. When Russia began its major assault on Ukrainian cities in February of last year, he was a marine stationed in the city of Sevastopol in the Russian-occupied Crimea. Before being transported to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, he was instructed to call his family to say goodbye.

Uliana recalls their conversation as lasting for more than an hour. "He was crying, I noticed. I commanded Vanya to show me what she had. He presented me with a machine gun. just as when he was younger, he would show me his toys. ".

Vanya's video message is shown to him in a clip by Boris. Vanya is saying, "Our cause is just. "Good day to everyone. When I arrive, I'll write. Kisses and bear hugs. ".

That, says Boris, "was his final statement.".

Traitors and Heroes in Inside Russia at Storyville.

Despite the extremely high stakes, two Russian filmmakers have been documenting the effects of the invasion of Ukraine in their nation. Numerous thousands have left. Those who have remained have been forced to choose between opposing the war, supporting it, and remaining silent.

Currently available on BBC iPlayer (UK Only).

On March 15, he was assassinated in Mariupol close to the Azovstal steel mill.

His passing brought Uliana and Boris' opposing perspectives on the war into sharp relief.

The "brotherhood" of the Soviet Union republics, as Boris refers to it, is something Uliana is too young to remember, he tells her. His claim is that the fall of the Soviet Union "broke the psyche of many generations to come, instilling in them the belief that the Russians were their enemy.".

He speaks in a manner that is reminiscent of President Putin, who has referred to the fall of the Soviet Union as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] Century.". Prior to the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, Ukraine proclaimed its independence.

The Russian president also accuses NATO and the West of starting the war in an effort to weaken and ultimately destroy Russia. Boris concurs with this story.

Uliana is informed by Boris that "'No to war' only has one meaning in today's world.". The phrase means "Death to the Russians. This conflict is one that affects the Russian world, the Russian soul, and our culture. ".

Uliana obviously does not share that opinion, despite the fact that she occasionally changes.

Uliana is on vacation in Georgia, one of the few nations that Russians are still permitted to visit due to sanctions, when Popova captures the moment when she and her friends are having dinner and talking about the war. Uliana starts to contest the data.

"I hope that my brother's death wasn't in vain. You need to defend your defeat. It hurts so badly. You have to grab onto something, Uliana says.

In the home of the family, a little shrine has been built in Vanya's honor. He died in Mariupol, so some soil was collected there. It has occasionally been in front of both a father and a daughter.

Despite their differences, Uliana claims she still wants to stay close to her father.

"I cannot wage war on my own father. We disagree, but I can't say "I hate you.". I can only respond, "Dad, I disagree.". That is all I have to say.

. '"

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