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Oct 2, 2019
The news cycle rarely passes these days without negative news of Russia and, sadly for the people of that region, Ukraine. What about the people?
Claudia Cragg (@KGNUClaudia) speaks here with Caroline Walton (@carolineski) who, during three decades of visiting Russia and Ukraine, met some exceptional women and men, people who had known famine, war and nuclear disaster.
Each of them underwent a process of transformation, and in so doing they transcended their circumstances in ways that were little short of miraculous.
“Where there was the 'holodomor'," she says, "there was my grandfather-in-law, Petro, who forgave everything. Where there was the Gulag, there were people such as de Beausobre who made it her personal Calvary. And where there was the most terrible siege in human history, there were people who sang Ode to Joy to their Nazi besiegers.”
From a village wise-woman to survivors of the siege of Leningrad
and the Chernobyl disaster, to the family she married into, they
helped Caroline transform her own western-centric world view.
"A wonderful combination of meticulous research and wide personal experience. Caroline Walton has met so many extraordinary people in Russia and Ukraine who have developed their cultures’ spirituality to survive the impossible. " - says, Dr Mary Hobson, Pushkin Medal winner.
Caroline Walton’s love for this part of the world began with her teenage reading of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. She visited the Soviet Union twice before its collapse and in 1992 she went to live in Samara, Russia. Later she travelled to Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev and the Crimea. She has written several books on Russia and the USSR (including The Besieged and Smashed in the USSR). She lives in London where she also works as a Russian to English literary translator. Caroline is married to a Ukrainian-Russian of Cossack descent.