Advocate for children from Mariupol appealed to the mothers of Russia

Advocate for children from Mariupol appealed to the mothers of Russia

Defender of children from Mariupol appealed to the mothers of Russia

Gennady Mokhnenko and Steve Hoover. New York, 2015 Photo: Oleg Sulkin   A children's advocate from Mariupol appealed to the mothers of Russia

Gennady Mokhnenko: «Don't send your sons to Ukraine!»

Ukrainian philanthropist and pastor Gennady Mokhnenko, who dedicated his life to the rehabilitation of homeless children, posted an appeal to the mothers of Russia on social networks, timed to coincide with the start of the new school year.

“Your sons, now en masse, in a large-scale war, can be thrown here to us, to the hellish slaughter started by the Kremlin,” the appeal says. “In that case, even I, the priest, would have no choice. I will have to stand up for my children and also take up arms. Therefore, I decided to turn to you and ask … Do what you can before it's too late. State your position. Raise your voice. Speak out against this madness!”

Mokhnenko notes that he is a Russian Ukrainian, that his mother is from St. Petersburg, and his father is from the Kursk region. “Russian is my mother tongue,” he writes further. “I grew up on Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn.”

Gennady Mokhnenko and his wife Elena have three biological and thirty-five adopted children. Mokhnenko runs the largest in the former USSR children's rehabilitation center for the homeless “Pilgrim Republic” in Mariupol. According to him, more than 4,000 disadvantaged children, including those with drug addiction, have passed through the center. It provides homeless children with shelter, clean clothes, decent food and the hope that they will be able to give up drugs and alcohol and return to a normal life. Some of the guys in the past are longtime drug addicts infected with AIDS. Mokhnenko is known as the initiator of the public anti-drug action “Obrydlo!” Kursk to Vladivostok. The bike ride was called “A World Without Orphans”.

At the Tribeca International Film Festival in New York in 2015, he showed a documentary feature film Crocodile Gennadiy, dedicated to Mokhnenko and his humanitarian work. It was shot by Americans: director Steve Hoover (Steve Hoover) and producer Danny Yord (Danny Yourd). One of the executive producers was the cult American director Terence Malick. The final version of the film was titled “Almost Holy” at the American box office.

The film tells about the bright and complex figure of the pastor of the “alternative” “Church of Good Changes” Gennady Mokhnenko, who opened a shelter in Mariupol for homeless and “problem” children and adolescents, and the shelter operates independently of state health authorities and child custody.

The original title of the film is based on the image of Gena the Crocodile from a series of animated films about Cheburashka. Mokhnenko himself sometimes jokingly introduces himself to the new children whom he brings to the shelter as “Crocodile Gena”, trying to melt the ice of mistrust.

At one of the screenings of the picture, where the author of these lines was present, when the final credits rolled across the screen and the lights came on in the hall, the audience stood up in unison and applauded for a long time. The director of the film, Steve Hoover, and Gennady Mokhnenko, who had come to New York specifically for the premiere, appeared in front of the screen.

“It’s a strange feeling that you, the audience, got inside me,” Mokhnenko said. “You got inside my life, my pain and my hopes. It's all compressed into an hour and a half of screen time. Now there is a war in Ukraine, my city Mariupol is front-line. Very hot time. It's a miracle that Steve and his fellow filmmakers survived. They were one step away from the tragedy.”

In an interview with the correspondent of the Voice of America Russian Service, Steve Hoover explained that filming in Ukraine turned out to be a serious test for the American film group. Upon learning that the group had come from America, they were attacked by hooligan separatists with bats and tear gas canisters.

“The moment was extremely unsettling,” Hoover recalled. Our lives were clearly in danger. The thugs tried to rock our van and cut the tires, but we managed to break free and drive away. I do not speak Russian and it is difficult for me to properly assess the situation. But who knows what would have happened if they had managed to detain us.”

One of the viewers asked Mokhnenko why he spoke about the communist era with such hostility in the film.
< br />“Communism is my personal enemy,” he replied. – Stalin, the KGB and other symbols of that era still have their supporters. Many of Ukraine's problems stem from that damned era. As a teenager, I read Solzhenitsyn and realized that communism, socialism, is an anti-human system.”

“I have been an anti-Soviet since my youth,” Mokhnenko emphasizes in his current address to the mothers of Russia. – I hate everything that is connected with the concepts of the USSR, the KGB/FSB and the CPSU. But… I continue to consider myself a man of Russian culture and believe that we will survive the madness of the Kremlin scoundrels and see the removal of Putin from the Kremlin and Lenin from the Mausoleum.

“Let the viewer evaluate Gennady and his deeds,” the film director Steve Hoover emphasized, “We do not insist that he is perfect … It is impossible to show the hero in its entirety in one film.”

“Thank you, Steve, to you and your wonderful team,” Mokhnenko wrote to the filmmaker over two years ago, “for telling our story to the world! Do not give up to viruses and come to us, to Ukraine. Of course, come after the war, if, as we hope, we are alive. I embrace you on behalf of all the children of the Pilgrim Center.

Today, in the midst of a great war that has come to the Ukrainian land, Gennady Mokhnenko is giving all his strength to help the front. This is an undeniable priority for him. His social media pages give some insight into his specific cases. He also uses them when commenting on the progress of the war.

“We work at the front every day,” Mokhnenko writes on Facebook. – We continue to evacuate people, we deliver what is necessary for the defenders of Ukraine. We support those who find themselves in critical conditions in the war zone. For the last two days I served with one of our chaplaincy teams on the eastern front.”

And here is Mokhnenko's Twitter post: “Working in the zone of Russian shelling and crazy destruction. Slalom along the roads between sticking out of them, not exploding Russian “grads” and mines. They delivered the necessary assistance to the elderly, who had been living in destroyed buildings and basements for half a year.”

And again “Facebook”: “43rd went!!! Another car, within the framework of the project “100 AUTO for ZSU”! (Armed Forces of Ukraine) handed over by us to the defenders of Ukraine. Many thanks to the family of Julia and Kim Lauritsen for the excellent donated transport… This unit on the old, broken-down “Tavria” took out twenty wounded from the battlefield. Vehicles for the army are a matter of life for heroes… I thank all the participants in the project!”

“Alas, some of my adopted sons, former homeless children, are already soldiers,” Mokhnenko writes in an address to the mothers of Russia. “One of them, at the age of 25, buried five friends in this war that Russia brought to our home. One of them, a 19-year-old boy, was killed by your Russian sniper. My son tried to resuscitate a friend until he realized he was wiping his brains out of his face. The deceased was the only child in the family. After talking with his parents, I couldn't sleep or eat when I came to.”

“On the eve of September 1, barbarians from Muscovy hit two schools in Druzhkovka (Donetsk region) with aircraft bombs,” Mokhnenko reports on Facebook. “There was no military there at all. No hymers and abrams. Just for schools. Just bombs. Happy knowledge day to you, rashists! You will have to find out what the words "reparations", "tribunal", "de-occupation" mean… »

in every Russian city, DO NOT BE SILENT, says Mokhnenko in his appeal to the mothers of Russia. – Stop the Kremlin cannibals! Do not send your children to the meat grinder. … In these troubled days, I, like many of my fellow citizens and countrymen, enlist in the ranks of the territorial defense of my city. Ukrainians, if the Kremlin does not stop, will defend their children and their Freedom. The price can be very high. But Freedom is never given for free.”

“You simply leave us no choice if you don't stop Putin's petty tyrants with their imperial adventure,” the author of the appeal notes. – Do it. Do not send your sons to Ukraine!”