By Kylie Dees

March 18, 2022 (San Diego) – “The war between Russia and Ukraine is absolutely barbaric…and unthinkable on its scale. We are all deeply devastated,” Russian language teacher Dana Shembel said in an interview. at San Diego State University. with East County Magazine.

Shembel is originally from Moscow in Russia. She came to the United States in 1998 to pursue her doctorate in Slavic languages ​​and literatures at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. After graduating, she got her professorship at SDSU. She has taught film theory, Russian culture, and global media studies since 2005, as well as the director of the Russian program at SDSU.

She has very little family in Russia as her immediate family is in San Diego, where she lives with her mother and son. But she has friends in Russia who are ashamed “because they understand that they are taxpayers and they have taxes that sponsor the Russian army, so they indirectly kill Ukrainians”. She says they can’t even go out on the streets because it is “extremely difficult to resist the totalitarian regime”.

During our interview, she said that 13,000 people had been detained in various Russian cities for protesting. Russia also has very random checks for dissidents. For example, she explains, “I have a friend in Russia who was randomly arrested last week; he was leaving the subway and his phone was hacked. He called us and asked us to delete all important data and back up his icloud; before that he was detained.

She told ECM, “The war is absolutely atrocious and horrible, but on top of that, Putin is also trying to weaken everyone’s logic,” noting that Ukraine has a Jewish president, but Putin tried to justify war by fighting the Nazis. “Many even say he is committing genocide against Ukrainians, which is the most disturbing part of it all,” she adds. “Many use the language as well as Putin which refers to the Holocaust.”

President Joe Biden has imposed sanctions such as banning Russian oil from entering the United States. The ECM asked Shembel about the impacts of the sanctions on the Russian people.

She says: “First of all, I think political scientists and historians agree that sanctions could never ruin the regime. Look at Iran for example. Although Americans are hoping for an immediate impact from these sanctions, Shembel says many Russians are poor and live in provincial towns, where they don’t notice the impacts, which hit big cities harder. Despite numerous harsh sanctions imposed by US and European allies targeting the Russian economy, sanctions that have driven the value of the ruble down, Shembel says, “Putin just doesn’t care about the welfare of Russian citizens, and I don’t think sanctions can stop it.

Former President Trump has praised Putin as the rest of the world condemns him. Shembel believes, “It’s terrifying.

Trump claimed that if he were still president, Putin would never have invaded Ukraine. Daria calls this claim “laughable”. She says it’s important to note that Putin “showed what he prepared the country for”, the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has also cracked down on journalists, threatening long prison terms and fines for any journalist who strays from Kremlin propaganda while reporting on the conflict.

“Many journalists in Russia even choose not to cover the war,” Shembel said. “The Novaya Gazetawhich is an absolutely superb investigative journalism journal that has been around for about 28 years now, chose not to cover the war because there was even a law where they can’t even say the word war.

“It’s all heartbreaking,” concludes the SDSU Russian teacher.

Watch the video of the full interview:

Sylvester L. Goldfarb