Why are they leaving, then?

There are good reasons why so many Russian women are fleeing their country

Ms. Tonetti, a birthing educator and filmmaker, is the subject of Shannon Rooney’s feature story “The Russians are coming!” in the Dec. 17 issue of the CN&R. For more comments about the article, see Letters in this issue.

The article “The Russians are coming!” stirred up big emotions in our small Russian community in Chico. I certainly did not mean to offend anyone, and I am sorry if I did. I was simply sharing my life experience as well as my honest attempt to understand why Russian women are leaving our beloved Motherland at a rate of hundreds of thousands per year.

In her response (Letters, Dec. 24), Julia Kobrina-Coolidge accuses me of having wrong perceptions, pointing out that there are now malls and supermarkets in Russia. Besides ignoring the fact that only a small percentage of the population can afford shopping at these stores, she fails to offer her own explanation of the mass exodus of women who want to raise their children elsewhere.

The second outraged letter was from Nikita Schottman, who left Russia as a child. He quoted UN statistics showing that the poverty rate in Russia is lower than in Butte County and that crime isn’t really that bad. That’s cute. Statistics in Russia have historically been a political tool: They reflect only what the government wants to present. Not even Russians know the real numbers, never mind the UN.

Consider the story of Ikea: After building huge warehouses, it recently withdrew all contracts and fled Russia, leaving behind all assets, giving as an official reason the levels of crime and corruption.

Actually, the situation in Russia saddens me as much as it does any of the outraged ex-patriots. I am not the enemy, my dears. While still living there, I was an activist, doing everything I could to change the status quo, working with women and children to make our lives better.

I do love my country, love being Russian, and truly wish it was saner over there. I only shared my point of view and could not share anybody else’s; and I think the writer did a good job of capturing it. In fact, she tried to reach a few other Russians for interviews, but they all turned her down.

My apology goes out to Dr. Tatyana Reznik, who did not come here as a bride and got very offended when a picture of Russian brides at my house was provided by me to be used with the article that included her. There was no ill intention; we were not properly introduced. I simply did not know.