Russian wives in Palestine: to stay or not to stay?

Dozens of Russian women who followed their husbands to Palestinian territories say they are ready to come back to Russia if violence and instability in the region gets worse.

For the Russian wives and mothers everyday chores are mixed with the perils of living in a land torn by military and political confrontations.

Svetlana Haddad moved to the Palestinian town of Ramallah nearly a decade ago after meeting her husband Radik at University in St. Petersburg. They live with their two children in Radik’s parents’ home.

“It happens sometimes that Israeli Forces enter Ramallah and take someone. It’s not nice to see. At the moment we have decided to build our lives here, but if the situation gets worse, I am ready to go back to Russia,” says Svetlana.

For months now Radik has been working in Qatar saving money so he and his family can move into a house of their own. The couple stay in touch by talking over the computer.  It is not much, but it helps shorten the distance.

“The Israelis don’t care if a person has a Russian passport. Once you cross these borders you are considered Palestinian,” says Svetlana.

She can’t travel far. Although she is a qualified accountant, she hasn’t been able to find work.

Svetlana often feels claustrophobic by the many checkpoints and border crossings between Israel and Palestinian territories.

“Many people leave the country for a better life. It depends how safe the situation is going to be. If it is going to be more difficult for our children, we’ll leave,” says Svetlana Haddad.

But for now, until her husband returns, sweet moments like meetings with her Russian friends, help Svetlana escape the daily hardships of Palestinian life.

Once a year the few dozen women from the former Soviet Union who have married Palestinian men are the centre of attention as Women’s Day and Mother’s Day are celebrated in one. But everyday life for Russian women is no party.