Oksana Maslova

* 1983

  • “I remember that we went shopping with food coupons and that we were queuing in long queues. When attend school and your parents do not have money to buy you clothes or even a pair of shoes... There came a period when I was wearing the same pair of shoes for nine months. They got toe holes and I taped them up on the inside with duct tape. And when it was not enough, I coated the toe holes with shoe polish so the hole would not show when they started to open a bit. I remember it as if it were today. It could be rather poor.”

  • “The thing is the information that Russia would attack Ukraine had been there for a long time. It was changing constantly - it would attack us, it would not attack us, it would attack us, it would not... All the intelligent people that I know said that it was unreasonable to attack us, particularly nowadays, in the 21st century. That it seemed unreasonable. Until the last moment... Back on 23 February, I had plans as follow: an exhibition was supposed to start on 6 March, I was beginning a series of projects with a museum, and three exhibitions of watercolour painters from Odesa were supposed to take place one following the other; apart from that there was an opening night, we had been invited to the Odesa Opera and Ballet Theatre to the opening night of ballet Scheherazade. A remarkably interesting one. We were ill during the first showing, so we wanted to go to the second one, we were looking forward to it and wanted to see it. We were invited to a birthday party, I was invited to the artist's studio, and we were just starting to talk about how we could do a project for the Odesa International Film Festival; negotiations had already started. There were so many plans. A bunch of plans as they say in Russian.”

  • “And then they took us to the village of Vyšní Lhoty. It was a place with about five-metre fences with barbed wire. They brought us in a rather comfortable bus, the gate opened, there was our Ukrainian flag on barbed wire, and I woke up, I did not feel so safe anymore. The gate closed behind us, we were going through that space beyond the gate, it was clear to me that it was a long way to go to get back because the lights were fading and fading, and then a man came on the bus and said we could hand in our passports and go to sleep. When we asked them what would happen with the passports, they said we would get visas. ‘And what kind of visas will we get?‘ - ‘Good ones.‘ - ‘Can you specify that?‘ He walked through the whole bus and a person who was walking behind him was holding a tray like the kind they carry flowers on in supermarkets. When I turned to him, I understood he did not understand Ukrainian. I can speak English, so I asked him in English, and he answered me in broken English that ‘good, good‘. But it seemed scary to me. Because we arrived at a closed space. Other women also became afraid. And when they took us there, they said we could sleep in this and that building. There were iron bars on the windows. We were walking upstairs, they gave a package to everyone, a good hygiene package - toilet paper, toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, and shampoo for children. We also got a food package - bread with paste and yoghurt for my daughter. However, she did not eat it for some reason. Then they showed us little rooms with narrow iron beds, mattresses and big washed-out bedsheets and they told us: ‘Good night.‘ That was it. It was horrible! When my daughter saw it... She had been happy; she had believed that she was just travelling. But when she saw it, she simply started shouting: ‘Mum, take me away from her, take me away from here!‘”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 14.03.2022

    duration: 01:51:22
    media recorded in project Memory of Ukraine
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I believe that everyone is responsible for their life

Oksana Maslova in 2022
Oksana Maslova in 2022
photo: Post Bellum

Oksana Maslova was born on 27 March 1983 in Odesa in the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Her mother Olena Maslova was born in Crimea where her father served as a professional soldier. He was transferred to Odesa where he moved with his whole family. Oksana´s father Viktor Maslov was born in Odesa. Both her parents are engineers, they worked as project engineers. Oksana has a sister Olesa who is two years younger. During the Soviet Union era, her parents were prosperous professionals, and the family had a slightly above-average standard of living. The salaries of her parents decreased a lot after the disintegration of the USSR, and they later had to look for other jobs. Oksana was a member of “okťjabrjat” (similar to Czech “sparks”), but she was not a member of Pioneer. Her school was Russian, and Oksana did not encounter the Ukrainian language and literature until the last grade. Her teacher awoke a deep interest in literature in her. Oksana started to read books in the Ukrainian language, and she learned the language quickly. She graduated in biology with a concentration in neurophysiology at the University of Odesa. She was on the Maidan in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution in 2004 and was in Odesa with her new-born daughter during the Euromaidan in 2014. She worked as a cultural correspondent, and editor of many magazines, and wrote for Elle and the German newspaper TAZ. She is the author of poems and many plays. She left for the Czech Republic with her daughter after the first shelling of Odesa in February 2022. She now lives in Prague.