"My Cousins are Fighting on Either Side...They Tell Me: "We Don't Know Who To Shoot"
Q and A Part One: with Russian Supermodel Kira Dikhtyar on the Personal Cost of the War in Ukraine on its One Year Anniversary
My readers may recall that I met Russian supermodel Kira Dikhtyar because of Jeffrey Epstein. Kira had met Epstein when she was just 17. A former Russian Olympic gymnast, she had come to New York for modeling work. Epstein considered her in a special category of models. A top tier. These were women he paid to hang around in his home or office to look decorative while he held meetings with Middle East potentates and US plutocrats. At the start of the war her work for Western clients dried up abruptly, even though she is a dual citizen. She went back to Moscow; and then “figured out” how to return to New York and make her situation work economically - more of which you’ll hear tomorrow.
Here is Part One of our Q and A (edited and condensed for clarity):
VW: So, it's going to be a year since the war began on Friday. Are you speaking to your family back in Russia to hear how they feel about all of this?
Kira: Well to be honest I've been pregnant and I've been a little bit out of it. I'm a little upset about everything going on since I'm a Crimean native. Since the Battle of Kherson I stopped following the news. For me, the Battle of Kherson means a lot because–you know, I was a gymnast back in the days –my first sports camp when I was nine years old was in Kherson. It was my first time going somewhere away from home to compete at a sports camp.
So I have memories of my childhood in Kherson. My parents got married over there, and my grandparents got married over there. And I spent a tremendous amount of time there while I was living in Russia. We would fly every two months probably to Crimea. So after the Battle of Kherson was lost I started to become very worried about what was going on. So my doctor's recommended that I not follow the news so much given my state. Because I'm very, very affected by it.
VW: So I think what I'm hearing is that for you this is very complicated and difficult because you have divided loyalties to some degree. Is that what I'm hearing?
VW: Right. And do you think that many Russians feel the same? I mean, there are a lot of Russians with family ties to Ukraine and vice versa, correct?
Kira: I can speak about myself. ..I have a Ukrainian aunt who is now in Turkey. She's the godmother of my son. She's actually Russian…but she's a Ukrainian passport holder. So, yes we are all tied up. But my Ukrainian part of the family includes my cousin who is in the military in Ukraine. He's texting via Instagram. He's texting me, saying "I'm Russian." This kind of stuff.
VW: But he's fighting for Ukraine?
Kira: Yes, he's a Ukrainian passport holder because his mother, who is my godmother, had three daughters. One got married and moved to Moscow, one got married and moved to Kharkov, and one got married and moved to Krymenchuk. At that time it was one big country and no big deal. But now you see it's a huge deal. [Kharkov and Krymenchuk are in Ukraine].
VW: But are you telling me that your cousin is fighting for Ukraine against his will?
Kira: For Ukraine. And one cousin is fighting for Russia. And [in Ukraine] all the women could leave..women can leave but boys cannot. So at first my cousin was–I actually have the whole correspondence with him the year ago–he was kind of laughing and said oh they are not gonna take me to the military. I'm not a nationalist. I'm speaking Russian. I'm Russian. I don't speak Ukrainian. That was my cousin's logic was when writing to me. But with the war you cannot write anything like that any more because now it's very dangerous, what's going on. It's a very sad war.
VW: So let me ask you this. Are you still in touch with both your cousins fighting on different sides?
Kira: Yes, I am.
VW: Do you think both sides have had enough? Have the Russians had enough?
Kira: I'm trying to actually cut off communication from my cousins as much as possible. I asked my cousin in Ukraine to cut the communication because his electronic devices are getting tracked. Now, there is no more peace between Russian and Ukraine, which is very scary, especially when you have family on the both sides. And we care for the family on the both sides. I mean, they're Russians. They consider themselves Russians. And my cousin fighting for Ukraine said "we don't know who to shoot."
They each said: “we speak the same language. And we look the same.“ So there's a big confusion about who is Russian, who is Ukrainian at this point.