A different perspective on the Russian Crisis

By Melissa Skinner

When relaying a crisis to the public, the media most often showcases the bigger picture and does little to shed light on the people affected during a catastrophe. In the recent crisis with 283 passengers dying on a Malaysian airliner and the blame being placed on Russian leader Putin, we as Americans citizens daily watch our very own president not taking action, and we often forget that there are those now living in the US, who once experienced the fear and uncertainty of living under the control of the Russian government.

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Natalia Ivanova, a citizen of Russia now living in the US on a student visa, lived under the oppression for 14 years of her life. Ivanova grew up in a two-bedroom apartment with her parents, two brothers, and her grandmother. She recalls that the family did not have very much food however, her parents did everything they could to make sure their kids at least had the minimum necessities.

Besides living in poverty, Ivanova also experienced oppression when it came to church attendance. In Russia, individuals are not allowed to attend the church of their choice instead, they have to be approved to go.

“I did not have the freedom to worship or learn about Jesus. To this day there have been very few missionaries that are able to enter in my country to spread the Gospel and it is because of the strict government regulations,” she said.

In addition to religious persecution, the Russian government does not permit children with disabilities to attend a public school. Thus, Ivanova had to move to an orphanage when she entered first grade because she has a slight disability, which causes her to have a short neck.

Ivanova had her first chance to come to America when she seven for a medical trip. She was eventually able to stay in 2003 when she acquired a medical visa.

When hearing a story like Natalia’s, one cannot stop and be thankful they live in the US. Yes, our leadership is currently corrupt and little action is taken when it comes to crisis these days however, we have the freedom to attend church and the school of our choosing, and we do not feel intense oppression from our government.

When finishing her interview, Invanova said, “The reason I love America is because it is the American people that allowed me to come here and get the medical attention that I needed and gave me the chance to experience life outside of my country,” she said. “ Being in America allowed me to be free and be who I am.”

In America, we are allowed to be who we want to be. If a person wants to be a doctor, a lawyer, a journalist, a politician, or an athlete, they have the opportunity to do just that. The people in Russia suffer under the hammer of Putin, who does not allow individuals to express themselves. Maybe it is time we took a minute to be thankful for the country God has given us to live in despite the corruption that occurs on a daily basis. It was once said that someone always has it worse than you do.

Melissa is a recent graduate of Liberty University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in journalism. When she was a student, she was actively involved with writing for the marketing department at Liberty, the student run newspaper the Liberty Champion as well as freelancing for Lynchburg Business. Melissa will be interning with the National Journalism Center in Washington, DC this fall, after interning with the Stacy on the Right Show Radio Program.