Egypt's revolution through the eyes of Russian women

The coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood did not shock anyone, including the Russian women living in Egypt. Source: AP

The coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood did not shock anyone, including the Russian women living in Egypt. Source: AP

RBTH asked Russian wives of Egyptians about their thoughts on the current situation in Egypt and how their life has changed because of this.

Over the last two years, Egypt has survived two revolutions, held its first free elections, and has had two different presidents. All this time, Russia has been following everything that has taken place in Egypt. This is mainly because there are approximately 30,000 Russians living in Egypt, most of them wives of Egyptians.

The beginning of serious changes

Anastasia Petrova has been living in Hurghada for more than 10 years. Her husband Muhammad works in a tourist company. They have two children together. At first, Anastasia was against the Egyptian revolution, because she was sure that it would take a long time for the country to recover after the change of power.

“I was against the revolution. I understood that it would take a really long time to get out of that recessionary hole. Mostly the economic situation worried me, because my kids are growing up and I can't postpone giving them a proper education for 10 years,” Anastasia says.

The coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood did not shock anyone, including the Russian women living in Egypt.

“It was predictable, especially during the time when there was nothing to eat. In Egypt, nobody really likes to work, but, during the last few years, people completely got out of the habit of doing that. Nobody wanted to solve problems in an adequate manner; but even if they did want to, they wouldn't be able to. That's why Allah should be asked for help,” says Lilia, another Russian national. She is married to an Egyptian, but she is living in the United Arab Emirates and is writing her dissertation at the moment.

“My husband graduated from the American University in Cairo: He has a bank account, a proper education, but he still voted for Morsi,” Lilia says.

According to Anastasia, this is because the Muslim Brotherhood was the most organized political force, and there was hope that they could change the country and give its development a boost. But it did not take long to understand that this party would not have power for long. “The fact that Morsi wouldn't be president for long became evident when he started changing the law in the interest of his party, not his country,” Anastasia says.

The overthrow of Morsi

During the year that Muhammad Morsi was in power, the situation in Egypt became much worse. People encountered problems that they had never known under Mubarak. Besides electricity shortages, there were lines of 100 cars at gas stations. As a result, people started supporting protest rallies even more.

“Even my 75-year-old in-laws walked through the whole city to protest on the central square. Women and children who couldn't go far just left their houses and stood outside protesting,” Anastasia says.

Another Russian living in Cairo and mother of two, Renata Askerova, shares her memories about everything that was happening in Cairo at the time.

“There was a curfew—from 6 p.m. till 7 a.m. And this is in a city with a very active night life! Our men walked around the neighborhood protecting it from marauders,” says Renata. “Even now, when Morsi has been overturned, we are afraid that the Muslim Brothers will come to take revenge and organize terrorist attacks. It's dangerous and rather scary to live here, especially with children.”

Back to Russia?

All this time, I kept thinking about going back to Russia.

“The grass is always greener on the other side. Everybody understands that, in Russia too, it won't be easy. Whenever I think about Moscow traffic, the cold climate and the ecology, I come to think that it's better for us to stay here. If there won't be any kind of military development, we remain in Egypt,” Anastasia told RBTH. Her daughters have just begun school in Hurghada, where they are learning foreign languages and, at the same time, undertaking extracurricular studies at a Russian school.

On Russian tourists

Egyptian losses due to the lack of Russian tourists, which has to do with the internal conflicts and violence, are now estimated to have reached millions of dollars. It is probably evident how much this has affected local families.

Renata, who works in a visa-center in Cairo, has much less work right now because of the past events.

“The economy has suffered a lot. There is absolutely no tourism. Our wages are being cut, my husband hasn't been paid for a long time! I work in a visa center and, recently, we started granting fewer visas—the government is afraid of emigrants,” says Renata.

As for tourists, Russians are even more appreciated after all of these events.

“Everybody started to really appreciate tourists—especially the Russians, because, when they started flying again after the pause in 2011, we really noticed the difference. It was as if the city came alive,” Anastasia says.

What next?

Today, in the wake of the revolution in Egypt, everyone has begun to understand politics. Talks about the political situation in Egypt can be heard anywhere you go—in the supermarket, in a bazaar, and in many other places. Life in Egypt is beginning to get back to normal, although some are still scared.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to set up various acts of provocation: They understand that, for at least 50 years, they won't be able to get out in public. The Egyptian army is extremely strong, but I don't believe that the military will always have power. I think that the president won't be from the army; this is just in order to avoid additional mayhem,” says Anastasia.

At the same time, Lilia, who is currently living in Dubai, hopes that, when her children grow up, she will be able to move back to a new, different Egypt.

 

What do you think about the current situation in Egypt? Share your opinion in the comment section below!

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