Russian underground network intervenes to help Ukrainian refugees

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Russian underground network intervenes to help Ukrainian refugees. PHOTO/Reuters

MOSCOW – Refugees Ukraine reluctant to come under Moscow’s rule receive help from an unexpected side: a network of volunteers Russia who helped those displaced by the war to leave Russia.

When Bogdan Goncharov, his wife and 7-year-old daughter fled shootings in their hometown of Mariupol in mid-March, they ended up in Russian-controlled territory in southeastern Ukraine.

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Fearing being transported thousands of kilometers away after hearing about other refugees being sent to Siberia, Goncharov said he contacted a Russian volunteer who arranged transportation for them across Russia to the Estonian border.

“It was a miracle we got out,” said Goncharov, 26, who worked as a builder before the war and is now starting a new life in Sweden. “This is thanks to the volunteers,” he continued, as quoted by Reuters.

For displaced Ukrainians like Goncharov who do not wish to remain in Russia or Russian-controlled territory, volunteers provide advice on travel routes as well as financial assistance, transportation and accommodation along the way, according to nine people involved in the action. loose networks or have received help from them.

Many of the networks are run by Russians or people of Russian origin, according to four people involved in the network. Three of them said while most of the volunteers were based abroad, there were also some Russian nationals still in their homeland, and many of them worked clandestinely to avoid the attention of Russian authorities.

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This is one way ordinary Russians disillusioned by the devastation caused by war can express their feelings at a time when domestic laws are effectively limiting the ability of people in Russia to publicly criticize the military, said several people interviewed by Reuters.