Russian couple discover a refuge from conflict of their Istanbul bookstore By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Russian couple, Oleg Chernousov and Aleksandra Chernousova, talks throughout an interview with Reuters at their newly opened bookstore in Istanbul, Turkey October 7, 2022. REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya

By David Gauthier-Villars and Bulent Usta

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The dialog flowed from Turkish to Russian as Oleg and Aleksandra Chernousov chatted to company on the launch of their bookstore in Istanbul, the beginning of a brand new life in a brand new metropolis they as soon as thought would simply be a brief house.

Seven months earlier they’d fled from St Petersburg with a handful of possessions and one clear thought – to get themselves and their 11-year-old daughter far-off from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Because the battle raged on and their financial savings ran low, they and different Russian emigres began trying spherical in Turkey and making long term plans.

For the Chernousov household, these plans have taken form in Istanbul’s modern Moda district with the launch of their new bookstore “Black Mustache” – a play on the literal which means of their surname. .

“The shop is pocket-sized, not massive, however we hope it should have an extended and joyful life,” Oleg, 33, advised Reuters as guests, largely different newly arrived Russians, poured into the store.

Many say they fled Russia for concern of being arrested for opposing the invasion, which Putin calls a “particular navy operation”.

They have been additionally frightened they is likely to be compelled to battle – a concern that has develop into a actuality for the reason that president ordered a mass conscription.

For his or her new house, they selected Turkey, a NATO member that has sought to stability ties with Russia and Ukraine throughout the battle.

“Black Mustache” sells books on images, style and design, together with some in Russian, although the supply prices have been excessive.

Oleg has been capable of construct on the expertise he gained managing an identical retailer in St Petersburg, the place books have been at all times a giant a part of the couple’s life.

“When Oleg and I began courting, in Russia we referred to as it the candy-and-flower interval, he supplied me some books,” Aleksandra mentioned. After they fled, they needed to go away most of them behind.

“That is why I really feel so good that we’re doing a bookstore, as a result of the books and the bookshelves we had in Russia imply rather a lot to me,” she added. “They have been a supply of inspiration and with out them, I felt alone, I felt lonesome. Now I really feel higher.”

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