Russian mothers alone as mobilisation exiles fathers

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By Euronews  with AFP
Families without fathers because of mobilisation
Families without fathers because of mobilisation   -   Copyright  Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

Yekaterina Filimonova and her family may not be in danger from Russia's war in Ukraine, but they have not escaped its impact.

The first month was very sad of course and it was very hard for me and it was hard for the children
Yekaterina Filimonova
Wife and mother

Yekaterina's husband, Yaroslav Leonov , was among the many fighting-aged men who fled abroad when the Kremlin announced a partial mobilisation in September.

"The first month was very sad of course and it was very hard for me and it was hard for the children," explained Yekaterina. "When I'm upset, they get hysterical, they cry and they cry at night. And I realised that I have to pull myself together and keep my emotions in check."

Yaroslav, an IT worker, now lives in Belgrade, far away from the frontline line, but also from his children.

"Remote children are not the same as remote colleagues. You can reach agreements with colleagues remotely," Yaroslav said. "With children, they want to play and it’s not convenient to do it at a distance."

The sudden departure of so many fathers has left mothers across Russia struggling to raise children on their own.

Anastasia Arsenicheva is a co-founder of a charity organisation which supports mothers said sometimes mothers get no help from their wider family.

"This is especially visible in the regions, where families are divided literally over opinions on the current situation. And then make different decisions. When a woman is in a vacuum, completely alone, then this is really scary and that’s when our centre steps in to support them."

When mobilisation was declared, tens of thousands of men fled across Russia's borders to avoid being forced to kill or be killed. It was a desperate choice, but one most Ukrainian men of a similar age were not able to make.