24th of February 2022. A cold Thursday in The Hague. Life was rumbling on as normal, between the tram bells and clinking beers, the faint chants of protesters echoed around Het Plein and beyond, “Stop war”, “Stop Russia”. A small protest, opposing injustice. A typical sight in the city of peace and justice.
The events that followed were far from typical. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has rocked Europe and beyond. Towns destroyed, families torn apart, economic collapse, and a loss of life reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours.
However, Ukraine and Russia are thousands of miles from the borders of The Netherlands. And the effects of the war on Dutch life have been minimal — higher gas prices, protests here and there. But for some, the effects of this war are much closer to home.
This story is a glimpse of the lesser-known side of this conflict. The hidden realities of Russians.
But who are ‘The Russian people’? They are mothers and fathers, friends and co-workers. They are tall and short, loud and quiet. They are proud and ashamed. And they are here in The Hague.