2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ilya Sinelnikov testing a seated scooter, November 2021, Cambridge, MA

A real-life nightmare

The title of this post “2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine” is a copy of a Wikipedia page created on the first day of the war. It’s a phrase I could only imagine to be true in my wildest nightmares. For more than a month, the Russian army following Supreme Commander Putin has been invading Ukraine and holds the blockade of Mariupol, destroying humanitarian convoys. Ukrainians are facing a shortage of food, water, and medicine.

Growing up in Russia, summering in Ukraine

I grew up in Moscow in a typical post-Soviet environment that started with very limited resources in the nineties but then turned out to get better at the beginning of the 2000s despite the corruption on all levels — police, courts, universities, medical institutions, business — everything. Everyone was so used to it, so it seemed to me like the way the world works.

Left: Moscow apartment, 1996 ; Right: suburb of Moscow 1998
Russian landing warship on fire in the Berdyansk port on March 25, 2022 (photo credit left: Reuters; right: Satellite image of Maxar Technologies )
The office of the first startup, Moscow 2006

Putin’s Russia

I’ve never supported Putin or voted for him as I thought a man from the KGB (Soviet Security Service) could never be the right choice for the country. But I believed he was a legitimate president elected by the majority.

Protesting at Bolotnaya Square, Movement for Fair Elections, -4° Fahrenheit, February 4, 2012

Leaving Russia

After witnessing people suffering for simply speaking their views, seeing injustice, aggression, and propaganda it became increasingly clear to me that I have to leave. It was not an easy decision for me as I was leaving not only the country but my hometown, my parents, my friends, my colleagues.

Ilya’s kids checking out a Superpedestrian scooter prototype

#stopthewar

Unfortunately, the hard truth is that many people in Russia support the government’s aggression and it is not rare that in one family, one person may support the war while the other protests against it and gets caught by the police. The propaganda in Russia now is stronger than ever and some political scientists compare it to what was happening in Germany right before WWII.

Demonstration in Boston against Russian aggression, March 2022

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