Dear Western Media, Let’s Not Reduce the “Not All Russians Are Bad” Narrative to Absurdity

Roman Cherevko
4 min readJun 4, 2022


We’ve all seen stories of people in Russia protesting against the war at risk of detention. That’s quite brave.

We’ve also seen stories of people fleeing Russia, which doesn’t always require courage and doesn’t necessary mean they’re against the regime — sometimes it’s enough to be able to afford it and/or be an IT specialist or a businessperson who doesn’t want to lose access to Western markets due to sanctions.

We’ve also seen the story of Marina Ovsyannikova who appeared with an anti-war poster on Russia’s largest propagandist TV channel — where she was working at the time.

But enough is enough.

Sometimes the “not all Russians are bad” narrative demonstrates symptoms of a deep-seated and serious pathology bordering on absurdity.

Here’s a recent example of what is slowly but surely spreading while the war in Ukraine rages on, even if not everyone notices it.

Geneva Solutions, a Swiss “non-profit journalistic platform”, has recently launched the Ukraine Stories section on its website where it gives the floor to Ukrainian and… Russian journalists.

Texts on the site are published in English, Ukrainian and Russian, and they are also supposed to be translated into French by some partner media.

On June 1, 2022, a story titled “‘I will do my best not to kill’: Russian soldier tells of life in occupied Ukraine” appeared in that section. It’s an abridged translation of an article from the Russian Holod Media.

This is a story of some abstract “gentleman” Sergei who, together with his compatriots, has occupied the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, but not because he’s bad or evil — how could we think that! — no, he just wanted to make some money.

Sergei complains about not being welcomed by Ukrainians and about poor diet. He refers to Ukrainians by the derogatory term “khokhols”, which the journalists of Holod and the editors of Geneva Solutions repeat without a twinge of conscience, first in quotation marks and then without them. And he promises not to kill anyone and to return to Russia someday — but not now, because of the contract and “financial issues”.

Just think about it: the journalists, among the hundreds of thousands of invaders, find some “Sergei” (not his real name, of course) to show that there are also good occupiers — no less! And this is published under the banner of Ukraine Stories!

There is no way to prove this Sergei even exists. There is no information on how they got in touch with him. There are only stock photos — nothing to prove they have really talked to someone who is now in Melitopol. A good writer can make up hundreds of stories like this without leaving their bedroom or interviewing anyone.

And even if this Sergei existed, dear ladies and gentlemen from Geneva Solutions and Holod, “doing one’s best not to kill” means refusing to take weapons, execute criminal orders and invade another country.

And your Sergei is a typical terrorist like all the others who illegally crossed the border of Ukraine.

Credo quia absurdum,” said Tertullian (or so his words were paraphrased).

It seems some journalists project this formula onto their audience: they hope people will believe their stories because they are absurd.

If some Russians want to be viewed as dissenters — no matter whether they are now in Russia or abroad, — they should contribute to changing the situation in their country, overthrowing the totalitarian regime, rethinking their history — because what is happening now is the climax of centuries of Russian history, — and de-imperializing their homeland.

But stories like this about Sergeis, Ivans, Mashas and Natashas who don’t support the regime and “suffer” — poor little things! — from decisions of the bloodthirsty dictator — and from sanctions — are not helpful at all.

There are Russian oligarchs in Europe — often with money in Swiss banks, by the way — who are not happy with the sanctions, so they will do their best to convince the West they are not Putin’s accomplices and should not be “discriminated”. They are definitely interested in this kind of “not all Russians are bad” rhetoric.

Russian oligarchs can buy a prime minister or a chancellor of a European country, so do you think they can’t buy a media or two?

Note: This article is loosely based on my post in Ukrainian published here.



Roman Cherevko

Ukrainian writer, translator, independent thinker and researcher