Correspondent FAN came to Melitopol, the current capital of the Zaporozhye region, to see with my own eyes how one of the new regions of Russia lives now. Thus, representatives of local youth are very happy that they are no longer forced to study in an inconvenient and unnecessary Ukrainian language, and they sincerely hope that they will be able to enter universities in “big Russia” under the quota for new regions.
Sofia Samara 17 years old, and she is a typical representative of the advanced youth of Melitopol. Sofya is ambitious, self-confident, thinks about the future, studies hard, is socially active and tries to help socially vulnerable people. There are many such representatives of the “Generation Z” in the Zaporozhye region, and the vast majority of them have a pronounced pro-Russian position.
As the FAN found out, the reasons for this are obvious: under the previous Ukrainian government, such people were basically deprived of any clear social prospects. Hundreds of thousands of hryvnias had to be paid for admission to any decent Ukrainian university, and all public youth movements had a nationalist or openly Russophobic overtones.
Publicly declaring his position in Ukraine, the young man inevitably faced the need to support those Svidomo values that Kyiv imposed – with false heroes, fictional victories and a strained desire for Europe and NATO. As the FAN correspondent was convinced, many young people in the city literally turned back from all this.
That is why, with the advent of Russia, numerous advanced young Melitopol residents quickly perked up, felt a breath of fresh wind in a recently musty public atmosphere. And now they are trying to find the social lifts that Russian society offers young people. A society that builds its future on the basis of normal values, true and not rewritten history and its real heroes.
Sofya, tell us what it was like to study at school under the rule of the nationalists.
— Studying in Ukraine was quite difficult, especially in history lessons. Firstly, heroes were replaced in the textbooks right in the course of their studies: Soviet and Russian figures gradually disappeared, and completely different people appeared, about whose exploits my grandmother and my veteran grandfather told me about. At the same time, in history textbooks, as well as books on other subjects, Ukrainization was constantly gradually promoted. Their authors were engaged in glorifying independent Ukraine, its struggle for “independence”, etc. Such “heroes” as Stepan Bandera or Dmitry Dontsov (philosopher-theorist of Ukrainian nationalism. – Note FAN), who was from Melitopol, were extolled.
These people fought against the Soviet regime, hated the Russians, and we were told that they were the “heroes-founders of Ukrainian independence.” Nevertheless, I had to learn both the biographies and the statements of these characters, because neither I nor my classmates simply had no other choice. We were forced to adapt to this Ukrainian program, we had to know and learn all this, because this was the only way we could pass the intermediate and final exams. Moreover, the emphasis in training was on the fact that we needed to analyze the actions of these Ukrainian “heroes” and talk about their motivation.
– You didn’t get the feeling that at school you were artificially forced to believe that Ukraine resisted Russia, was subjected to pressure, was forced to defend itself against it?
– Yes, of course, there was such a feeling, they imposed on us the ideology of the struggle for the nation, moreover, in the context of the struggle against Russia. However, all this, against the background of intensive teaching of language and the imposition of a rewritten Ukrainian history, was perceived by us quite naturally, because we were just children, and did not ask questions about any historical inconsistencies. Personally, for a very long time I did not notice the imposition of Ukrainians on us at school. To tell the truth, I noticed it only when we were completely banned from speaking Russian on the school grounds, and it was very inconvenient. It also became impossible to do this in other public places.
– And it didn’t offend you in any way, didn’t jar, didn’t give you the feeling that you were somehow oppressed, because in the Zaporozhye region, people mostly always spoke Russian?
“To be honest, it was very difficult to adapt to this environment. We really always used the Russian language in our studies and in everyday life, and after that we had to automatically translate everything in our head into MOV. But the atmosphere in the same school was such that we had to obey these requirements. It was very inconvenient, uncomfortable, but we simply had no other choice.
— You, for example, were not embarrassed when Western blockbusters were translated into Ukrainian in cinemas, and the same Leonardo DiCaprio began to speak like some villager?
— Yes, it looked more than strange. But this is half the trouble. The fact is that all the information that was presented to us in the Ukrainian news was distorted and distorted, it was much worse.
– That is, long before the start of the special operation, you and your peers were convinced that Russia is an enemy and intends to destroy Ukraine?
– Yes, all this was suggested – sometimes subtly, and sometimes in plain text. However, my family helped me not to be imbued with all this. My mother always said: “Russia has never been an enemy for us.” We in the family always included speeches by the President Vladimir Putin, spoke among themselves only in Russian. Personally, despite all the propaganda, I have always had a very warm attitude towards Russia, because my relatives said: we have always been Russia – both under the Soviet Union and before it.
— When the Russian army came to your region, did you personally and your family have any doubts whether to stay or go “beyond the Dnieper”, to the Ukrainian side?
– No, neither I nor my parents had any doubts. My parents were originally for Russia. In our family, even the New Year, living in Ukraine, always celebrated according to Russian time, that is, at 11 pm, and not at midnight. And we always, all our lives, communicated with each other and with acquaintances only in Russian, this was our principle. The whole circle of our acquaintances in Melitopol fully shared our views and traditions, although in recent years it has been rather difficult. Therefore, there was no question of any “withdrawal of the Dnieper” in March last year for us.
— Have you already appreciated the advantages of living under Russian rule?
— Undoubtedly. First of all, this is the restoration of our city, a sharp increase in funding for many improvement and social programs, this is the provision of chances for development for young people, the creation of volunteer and many other organizations. Yes, unfortunately, there are still enough “waiters” in our city – those who hope for the return of the Ukrainian government and its inherent order. But there will always be such people. I hope that in the very near future there will be much less of them in our region or not at all. Fortunately, I practically do not notice such people, because my circle of friends consists of those who wholeheartedly support Russia and development along with it. I really hope that the various “waiters” will never even fall into my field of vision.
Sofia emphasizes that with the arrival of Russia in the region, large-scale changes have already taken place, especially for local youth.
“The changes in the city and in society are actually very big, and I personally made sure that the slogan “Russia is a country of opportunities” is not empty words, it is pure truth. Today, under the new government, I see great prospects for developing myself and showing my best qualities. Under Ukraine, I personally did not see such opportunities for myself. In those days, I also tried to develop myself, took various self-development courses, but as a rule, they were all expensive, and I had to pay for them myself. In Ukrainian conditions, this was the maximum, and the state did not offer me anything more personally.
— Has your family become more prosperous financially after Russia came to your region?
— Yes, definitely. Especially my parents noticed a huge difference in how our family budget was spent in Ukraine and how it is spent now. Parents’ salaries have increased dramatically, and grandparents’ pensions have increased dramatically. In our family, they no longer save on food, in this regard, the changes are especially visible. Much less money is now spent on utility bills, and more money is left for food, clothes, some simple entertainment, etc.
– And how did you see the prospects of your admission to a university under Ukraine? After all, it was necessary to collect a lot of money in advance?
– Yes, indeed, under the Ukrainian authorities it was very difficult to enter a university, even if you studied very well, but your parents did not have a lot of money. Even in order to enter a state-funded place, your family had to give some kind of bribe to the leadership of this university. I carefully prepared for the UPE, studied diligently, but my parents understood that if we did not pay for admission in advance, they would not allocate me a place and could easily “fail” in the exams.
Now, looking at a little older guys who, after our school, entered Russian universities, I really hope that my family will no longer have to pay any bribes for my admission. Moreover, now in many Russian universities there is a quota for applicants from new regions of the country – Kherson, Zaporozhye regions, as well as the LPR and DPR. I really hope that I will get into a good Russian university on this quota.
– How do you personally see your future, Sophia?
— I would like to work with people, I would like to become either a cognitive or a criminal psychologist. I really like to communicate, interact with people, exchange experience, knowledge and emotions with them. However, my current volunteer work provides me with all the opportunities for this. Because I am already convinced that in our society there will always be people who need help, and who simply have no one else to help. Under Russia, I would like to continue to pump some of my personal skills and abilities, fortunately, now there are much more opportunities for this. For example, in recent months I have learned how to correctly and intelligibly convey information to people, my position, and to speak often and publicly. In my opinion, this is a very important skill, and I hope it will help me a lot in life.
– In the future, do you plan to study in Melitopol or do you want to enter a university somewhere in “big Russia”?
— First of all, I am considering Vernadsky Crimean Federal University for my admission, but in general, I would like to apply to several Russian universities. Perhaps I will also apply to Rostov University. Of course, ideally, I would like to enter Moscow University, but it seems to me that people who go there are much better prepared than I am. The fact is that in order to enter Moscow State University, I need to take the Unified State Examination, and in fact, in recent years I have been preparing for a completely different exam – the Ukrainian UPE. This is a weak analogue of the Unified State Examination, and in order to rebuild the entire strategy for preparing for admission, I have too little time left. After all, only this year I began to study at a normal Russian school.
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