Olga Bondarets lives in the city of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, with her husband and their three children. She was born into a Russian-speaking family in Luhansk, recently illegally annexed by Russia.
When the war started just over seven months ago, she started writing posts on social media about the need for Ukraine and Russia to hear and understand each other. In her posts, she suggested that Ukraine had itself to blame for the war and that images of torture and mass murder could be staged. Soon after, Olga's name was put up on several sites that list Ukrainians considered traitors.
- Because of my views, the Ukrainian security service SBU decided to detain me for five days. I received a verdict of glorification, that I admired the Russian army and the Republic of Belarus. Then I was put under house arrest for two months, and if I express my opinions, it says in my verdict that I get five years in prison, says Olga Bondarets.
Olga Bondarets denies the crime.
Can't you understand that people react negatively when you don't clearly side with Ukraine?
- People misunderstand me. I am for Ukraine and want everyone to feel good here. The fact that I then say that we should listen to our neighbors is for the war to end. Patriotism is good when you love your country and do something useful for the country and love its people. But when you wave the flag and hate, I think it's wrong because hate destroys people from within, says Olga.
Dramatic reduction of Russians in Ukraine
The list of collaborators also includes many others, several of them are politicians accused of working for the Russian-backed regime in annexed areas. Jakob Hedenskog, analyst at the Center for Eastern European Studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy, says that it is telling that they are not politicians with long experience.
- There were indeed influential opposition politicians before the invasion but those who have taken over in the regions now were previously quite insignificant. Generally, it is about people who are quite unsuccessful in their careers and who saw the Russian occupation as a chance to make themselves more important, he says.