Russian ex-journalist living in Norfolk says he feels guilt over country's invasion of Ukraine

  • Russian Boris Konoshenko urged people not to stigmatise his fellow countrymen and women.

A former Russian newspaper editor living in the UK says he is ashamed of his country and feels guilty he did not do more to stand up to Vladimir Putin.

Boris Konoshenko, 60, is a former editor-in-chief of Metro, one of Moscow's best-read newspapers, and now lives in Swafield Hall near North Walsham in Norfolk.

Upon hearing the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he told ITV News Anglia he felt a personal responsibility.

"I'm feeling sad, a bit depressed and angry and also personally I feel a kind of responsibility that I didn't do everything to prevent it, and I feel guilty also as a Russian.

"I'm consequently asking 'did I do everything to prevent it, to stop it?' and personally I can't [say that I did]."

He described the creeping restrictions on his job as a journalist as the Russian state began to control more of the media landscape.

"Slowly months by months the freedom became less and less and the control became more and more," he said.

"You have to accept more compromise and suddenly you have to understand you are not yourself. At some point I thought 'I don't want to provide people with propaganda instead of the truth'.

"You can't fight censorship. Your personal life could be used against you or it can affect your relatives. It's difficult to do your job properly, but maybe I had to be stronger.

"When I was a child, my parents scared me by [talking about] Nazi Germans and I was thinking 'who are these Nazi Germans? How they could attack my country?'

"And now my own country is invading, I feel devastated and sad and powerless and I'm sure a lot of my Russian friends are feeling the same."

People used subways as bomb shelters in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. Credit: PA

Mr Konoshenko told ITV News Anglia that he moved to Norfolk because he felt he could not do his job properly because of censorship and control.

"I couldn't be myself any more. I had to, for money, throw away my beliefs.

"I was very lucky I could move to the UK - a lot of people can't."

His daughter and grandson still live in Moscow and the last time he spoke to her she was in tears on the phone.

"She is as sad and angry as I am. I'm worried with all these sanctions maybe I won't be able to see her any more to fly there. Maybe if social media is blocked I wouldn't be able to communicate as easy with her as before.

"I have a lot of friends in Ukraine. It's very tragic days for a lot of Russians, they are feeling really ashamed and guilty.

"I feel a responsibility like the Germans after the war, I feel kind of the same feeling.

"It's not Russians that are horrible, it's Putin and his supporters that are horrible."