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A Russian man's mother disowns him for not supporting the invasion

Business Insider US
Russian actor Jean-Michel Scherbak poses for a photo during his trip in Kyiv, Ukraine October 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken October 2021.
  • A Russian model said his mother disowned him after he criticised Russia's invasion in Ukraine.
  • Jean-Michel Scherbak, 30, has been posting about the war on his Instagram account.
  • "You are no longer my son," he said his mother told him. "There will be no traitors in my family."
  • For more stories visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za

A Russian model and actor said his advocacy on behalf of Ukraine has cost him his relationship with his mother in another heartbreaking example of how Russian President Vladimir Putin's war has torn families and friends apart.

Jean-Michel Scherbak, 30, began posting about the conflict almost immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, sharing videos and news updates with his tens of thousands of Instagram followers.

But his educational efforts didn't sit well with his Russian mother, a longtime and fervent Putin supporter, Scherbak told CNN this week. His mother promptly blocked him after he wrote on social media that he was ashamed of his country for starting a war. 

"She texted me on Facebook saying that I was a traitor and that I had made my choice," Scherbak told Reuters last month. 

Scherbak, who told CNN that he has several friends in Ukraine and has visited the country multiple times, said he was inspired to start posting about the war because he couldn't believe such brutality was possible in this day and age. 

He began sharing stories from Ukrainians on the ground on his Instagram account, juxtaposing their lived experiences with Russian-state lies.

"People who live far from the big cities, they turn on their TV and they see propaganda news only," Scherbak said of Russia's powerful propaganda machine. "And they believe official media more than independent media."

Scherbak eventually decided to leave Moscow and spoke to CNN from Germany. But before leaving his home, he said he made one last attempt to reconcile with his mother. 

In a March 1 Instagram post, Scherbak said he sent his mother some money and a letter, in which he told her he didn't hold a grudge against her. Her response came quickly.

"Don't send anything, I will just send it back. I don't communicate with Russophobes and traitors to the Motherland," she wrote, according to pictures on Scherbak's Instagram. "I sincerely wish you would give up your Russian passport and leave this country in any direction."

"You are no longer my son," she added. "There will be no traitors in my family."

Despite her having cut off communication, Scherbak spoke directly to his mother in the Instagram post, telling her that he would never treat his children the way she treated him, but adding that she could still contact him if she ever wanted to talk again. 

Scherbak's experience with his mother is an increasingly familiar one for many people in Ukraine and Russia who have found that their loved ones are loath to believe the truth about what is happening throughout Ukraine. Insider's Mia Jankowicz last month spoke with multiple Ukrainians about the difficulty they've had in convincing their Russian relatives and friends that Russia's invasion was unprovoked.

One woman who lives in eastern Ukraine told Insider that she feels the war has left her "orphaned" after her father, a Russian veteran, refused to listen to her.

"I started talking about the horror that is happening in Ukraine," she told Insider. "He said it was a lie. That they are saving us."

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