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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ukraine conflict uniting Gloucestershire's Russian Orthodox community as prayers said for MH17 plane crash victims

Ukraine conflict uniting Gloucestershire's Russian Orthodox community as prayers said for MH17 plane crash victims

Oksana Yarkina has travelled back to her native Ukraine to see her parents every summer since she moved to Britain seven years ago.

But with a civil war threatening to tear her country apart the 38-year-old is too scared to make the journey with her young daughter Sophia.

For now Oksana must make do with daily Skype conversations with her parents who she knows don’t tell her the full truth of what is happening around them because they want to shield their daughter from worry.
“I feel upset all of the time,” she said.

“My parents live in eastern Ukraine which is where all of the fighting is going on and my brother lives in Russia and he cannot go and visit because the borders are closed to any men under the age of 65.
“It is ruining families.

“Every summer I go and see my parents but this year I can’t and I am scared. It is not safe.
“I speak to my parents every day on Skype. My mum is so upset about everything.
“She won’t tell me what is going on because she doesn’t want to make me upset.
“It is a horrible situation.”

Oksana, who now lives in Cheltenham:
“My brother doesn’t think it is Putin,” she said.
“He thinks it is all America and the West’s fault.

“I speak to my friends in Ukraine and they say the hospitals are full. There are men with no arms, no legs. For what?”

On Saturday Oksana, along with other members of the Russian Orthodox community in Gloucestershire, met for an urgent prayer service in Bentham dedicated to the victims of the MH17 plane crash and the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

The Parish of St Vladimir is made up of people from Russia and Ukraine and while they may disagree on the cause of the fighting they all want a peaceful solution.
Philip Hicks is the church warden.

His family comes from the Cossack region in the south of Russia just to the east of Ukraine.

“People are just desperately sad about it,” he said.
“There have been differences in opinion but you get that in any community.
“People are sad and scared for their families and they want it to be over.
“If you cut away the politics most normal, right thinking people would say they want it to end.
“It is unacceptable to have people being killed.
“Nobody can bring these people back. We can only pray for their souls.”

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