While walking around the shopping mall near my house, I was struck by a food stand near the elevator: ‘Bakery by Men’ it read. In a country where the president flies in jets, cruises on submarines, practices judo and rides horses, ‘Bakery by Men’ seemed bold. I stopped by to talk to the guy working the shop that day. Alexei said he had moved to Moscow in early March 2014 from Sevastopol…just days after Russia began the process of annexing the region. He said he was planning to come to Moscow at the end of February as he had fallen in love with a girl from Moscow that he met through social media network Vkontake.
She was working a food stand at a Moscow Christmas market in central Moscow, turning occasionally a lever to create music and attract customers. In asked her if she was worried at all about the ruble. "Of course I am, we are all concerned because prices will go up. It probably worries us migrants more than Russians." I didn't realize she was a migrant, so I asked where she was from. 'Eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv.' She said she works in Russia a few months and then goes back home in accordance with visa rules, one of the 3 million or so Ukrainians that work in Russia. I asked if the currency instability impacted her mood. She said people have been through this before. "You have to keep living regardless of whether you are in a good mood or not." At the end of the conversation, she told me she was from western Ukraine.
He said he had a good life - an apartment, car and his own small store - until fighting erupted in his hometown of Luhansk. A bomb damaged the roof of his store and he left for safer territory in Moscow, where he now sells boiled corn-on-cob at popular Moscow park. Half Russian, half Ukrainian by nationality, he will get Russian citizenship and says may end up settling in Russia, but he misses his home town and previous, stable life.