Voices from Russia

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Masha Mashtaler: “I Want to Tell You About This Amazing Man I’m Proud to Know”


I want to tell you about this amazing man I’m proud to know. Aleksei Valeryevich Zhuravko is an ex-Peoples Deputy of the Ukrainian Verkhovnaya Rada of the Fifth and Sixth Convocations. After the Maidan events, he had to leave [the Ukraine] because his convictions were radically different from the ideas of the new Kiev régime. Here, he continues to information warfare against lying Ukrainian propaganda through social networks, he regularly visits the Donbass, and he never refuses those who turn to him for help. His life’s story is a fit subject for cinema. Disabled from childhood, he grew up in an orphanage as he has a very rare congenital disability… a lack of limbs, but he doesn’t lack strength of the spirit, incredible resilience, and leadership qualities. This helped him (who lacks usable legs) to rise to political power in his native region. Although he literally only has one hand, he organised disabled people to enable them to find work. Subsequently, he led the union of public organisations for disabled people in the Ukraine and represented their interests at all state levels.

They say that strong people go through intense upheavals. After the 2014 putsch, he lost almost everything; he survived the betrayal of his loved ones, threats, and harassment. However, his love for life, energy, and enterprise gave him the grit not to give up, thereby inspiring and motivating others. When you talk to him, you don’t see his physical features; on the contrary, you get a sense of calm and security, because you understand that he’s a real mensch who isn’t afraid to take responsibility for others. His example inspires me in fearful moments… when my hands flutter, I recall that Aleksei Valeryevich only has one hand, but he’s done more for the world with one hand than I’ve done with two. That means that nothing is impossible.

1 November 2017

Masha Mashtaler



I don’t think of A V Zhuravko as a “disabled person”. I think of him as a stand-up guy who isn’t afraid to stand for what’s right and decent, no matter the cost. That’s the long and the short of it for me.



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