In this war led by Vladimir Putin, there are voices that are raised in Russia and that count to express their disagreement. Among these voices, there are often those of women, emanating in particular from the “Council of mothers and wives of soldiers”, a collective set up by Olga Tsukanova. Mother of a soldier, the latter denounces in particular the setbacks of the Russian army in Ukraine and the opacity of the administration about Moscow’s losses on the ground.
Desire to discourage
The action of Olga Tsukanova and her colleagues is like a quest in the void. The letters addressed to the FSB to try to have news of their husbands or their children remain all dead letters. As for requests for prisoner exchanges, as was the case with the Ukrainian soldiers of the Azov battalion, they are purely and simply ignored by the administration. A “contempt” which sometimes pushes them to carry out their own investigations. “Most often, we search for videos on the Internet ourselves, assures Olga. Many of us have recognized loved ones in pictures. Once a woman even sent me a video in which she found her son dead. Others recognized their husbands among battalions of prisoners.” Searches that are done a bit randomly, in the jumble of thousands of images that abound on social networks such as Telegram. Dizzying for Olga’s friends who prefer to go directly into the field. “Some even go to the morgues alone, says this mom. Others ask to meet those who have returned from captivity”, looking for any information.
When military mothers are received in the Kremlin by Vladimir Putin in person, his collective is not invited. Those who were able to meet the Russian president were handpicked. There was no need to make waves. Olga Tsukanova even recognized, among the women present, the mother of a soldier who died in… 2019. Another proof of the Kremlin’s desire to discourage them.
“They imagine that our fight will stop”
“It’s all calculated, she says. They imagine that our actions, that our fight to protect the lives of our loved ones will stop overnight. But their strategy will not work. They forget that what we are talking about here for most of us is what makes the essence of women. I want to talk about being a mom.”
Nothing slows them down in their actions, not even the 14-hour drive that separates his city, Samara, from Moscow. Recently, Olga wanted to go to the capital to raise awareness. The authorities wouldn’t let him. “They stopped our car, we were three women inside. Then they started looking for drugs in the vehicle. Then they took us to the police station without explanation. They kept us there until evening. The journalist who accompanied us was accused of ‘extremism’, it was in connection with the articles she wrote about us. She was given a trial the next day. But we were told clearly that they didn’t know why they kept us there.” Maneuvers which, she says, are not enough to demoralize her and her colleagues: “Women won’t stop there.”
“Women will not stop there”: Russian wives and mothers denounce the setbacks of the army