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Russian invasion deeply personal for Olds resident

Olds resident who moved to the community from Ukraine is on a mission to tell people the truth about the invasion of her home country
MVT Ukraine speaker Alla Murray pic
Alla Larionova, who moved to Olds from Ukraine in 2008 reflects on what the Russian invasion means to her. Murray Elliott/MVP Staff

OLDS — An Olds resident who moved here from Ukraine says initially the Russian invasion of her country was so devastating that in its early days, she cried most of the time.  

But now Alla Larionova, 35, says she’s on a kind of mission to let people know what’s really happening there. Recently, she was the guest speaker during Perogies for Peace, a fundraiser for Ukraine held March 31 at Ecole Olds High School. 

“At first it was very bad. I couldn’t talk to anyone for like two weeks. I was just in tears the whole time. I would come to work and I would cry and my girls would send me home,” she said during an interview with the Albertan

“I would sit at the meeting at work and I would just burst into tears and I would leave the meeting because you just can’t cope with that; you can’t. You try to normalize it in your head. But you can’t even normalize it in your head.  

“But you have to still live every day. You still have to go to work every day, you still have to function. You have to call your parents, you have to call your friends. 

“I was on the phone 24/7, talking to all my friends and my family. People would call me, I would call them. Some of them are in Poland. Did you find a house in Poland? How are you doing? Did you settle down? Where are your kids?’ And it was a disaster, it was a disaster.” 

However, Larionova said since then, she’s been able to calm herself down so she can spread the word about the war to others. 

Larionova says that’s very important because there’s lots of propaganda being spread by the Russians and their allies, trying to characterize the conflict as a mission to “save” Ukrainians from Neo-Nazis. 

Larionova as soon as she gets up in the morning she goes on the web and checks up with family to get the latest news about the war. Several times throughout the day, she scrolls multiple websites to ensure she’s receiving factual information. 

"Russia will pay for this – huge reparations for the rest of their lives,” Larionova said.  

"All the people are protesting. Everyone is on the street with flags being shot at with Kalashnikovs. And they’re still not leaving. They’re standing with their flags and they will ‘till the end.  

“People just don’t want Russians there. No one asked them to come there, it’s not their land.  

“They can take the territory, but they won’t be able to take the people. People will hate them for the rest of their lives, so they will never get Ukrainians to (surrender).” 

Larionova came to Canada from Ukraine in 2008 at age 21 because after university, she and her friends wanted to see the world. They were invited to come to Olds by local residents.  

Initially, she and a friend planned to simply stay for two years – the length of their work visa. 

“But then we liked it here and we made lots of friends and we’re like, OK, let’s stay another year. And then we stayed another year and then we stayed another year, and then I met my husband (Tanner Wiberg) and he’s from Olds so now I live here,” she said.