Russia's invasion of Ukraine has left some Russian Americans on Long Island angry, dismayed and heartbroken as a defiant President Vladimir Putin escalates fighting across the neighboring country.
"It’s catastrophic," said Nicholas Sluchevsky, of Sea Cliff, in an interview Tuesday. "This is Putin’s war … It is incredibly unfair to say that this is Russia’s aggression against another country."
Sluchevsky, a California-born son of Russian immigrants and head of the Stolypin Center, a Moscow-based foundation focused on rural development, said many Russians are misinformed about what their country is doing in Ukraine because of tight state control over most news media.
Sluchevsky said he returned to the United States about 16 months ago in part to be close to his ailing father-in-law — Leonid Kishkovsky, rector of the Church of Our Lady of Kazan, an Orthodox church in Sea Cliff, who died last year — but also because of what he said was a change in atmosphere in Russian society.
"You could just feel the society itself kind of getting angrier and angrier," Sluchevsky said. "Things were just kind of going off the rails in terms of rationality."
Katherine Dovlatov, of Laurel, said the war is "heartbreaking and devastating."
"Everyone I speak with feels the same, both here and in Russia," said Dovlatov, who was born in what was formerly Leningrad. "Everyone is spending their days glued to any news they can find, but people have no words. They’re broken."
Dovlatov, an editor and translator, said she worked in Russia in the 1990s translating newly created, post-Soviet legal documents into English.
Dovlatov said she "wholeheartedly" supports the sanctions against Russia but at the same time acknowledges that "they’re also incredibly painful to see."
"I was living in Moscow in the ’90s when it was optimistic and hopeful," Dovlatov said, adding that she hopes the war is "the beginning of the end" for Putin.
The Manhattan-based Russian Nobility Association, a philanthropic organization formed in the 1930s and now run by the son of the late Sea Cliff Mayor Ivan Pouschine Jr., canceled its annual spring ball because "in this time of sadness and tragedy, festivities would be inappropriate."
"The Russian Nobility Association in America unequivocally condemns the unjustified military invasion of Ukraine by the government of the Russian Federation," the association said in a statement on its website. "When the [Putin regime] misrepresents history and invents facts to justify the conquest of an independent, non-threatening neighboring country, using the same symbols we respectfully carried with us into emigration, we cannot stay silent."
The Orthodox Church in America, whose administrative offices are in Oyster Bay Cove, has raised $100,000 this week to support Ukrainian refugees in Poland, said the Rev. Alessandro Margheritino.
The church, which is separate from the Russian Orthodox Church, issued a statement last week from its leader, Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada.
"I ask that the hostilities be ceased immediately and that President Putin put an end to the military operations," the statement said. "As Orthodox Christians, we condemn violence and aggression."