Monday, October 08, 2001

War evokes memories for Russian immigrant




By Richelle Thompson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Lora Zinoviev has been here before, at the edge of fear, on the cusp of war, wondering which friends and neighbors won't return from the battlefields of Afghanistan.

[img]
The Zinoviev family: Alexander, Lora, and daughter Polena, 6, of Landen.
(Craig Ruttle
Cincinnati Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mrs. Zinoviev was a schoolgirl in Ukraine in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. A decade later, the Soviets withdrew in defeat, having lost 15,000 soldiers.

        “Mothers tried to hide the sons and not let them go. Young wives tried to hide the husbands,” said Mrs. Zinoviev, who immigrated to the United States in 1992.

        She lives in Landen with her husband, Alexander, and their 6-year-old daughter, Polena.

        “I had schoolmates and neighbors who never returned,” she said Sunday, as the United States and Great Britain began bombing Afghanistan in response to the September terror attacks. “Some who made it back had major psychological problems because they saw death so close.”

        Yet for Mrs. Zinoviev, the war seemed distant. Afghan soldiers never bloodied Soviet soil.

        The war this time is different, Mrs. Zinoviev said.

        “And it's worse,” she said. “When you're in a war with a country, you know your enemy. But with this, they were your neighbors. They were having a backyard barbecue the day before. It just blows my mind and gives me chills.”

        Until the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, Mrs. Zinoviev felt safe in the United States. She didn't lock her home or her cars.

        The attacks “took my good sleep away,” said Mrs. Zinoviev, 32. “What if Cincinnati is next?”

        Now, she won't drink tap water without boiling it first. Mrs. Zinoviev bought extra bottled water, canned goods and soups.

        And she's scared.

        “I know what war with Afghanistan is like,” Mrs. Zinoviev said. “There is no winning it. Those people have nothing to lose.”

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