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27-year-old Russian soccer player speaks up about the war

By: Tina Wu

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, people related to Russia have been too scared to speak up against it. They fear that they will get punished for having a different stance than the government. So far, only three international soccer players for Russia have spoken about the war. Two of them have been silenced after posting on social media. The third player is Nadezhda (Nadya) Karpova. She is currently the only player on Russia’s women’s national team to have the courage to pipe up about the topic.

Karpova has been posting anti-war messages daily on Instagram since the war first started. She has 143,000 followers.

I can’t just look at this inhumanity and stay silent,” she says. “I don’t know what would happen if I was in Russia not Spain, but I feel a special responsibility to speak out.”


Karpova has played for Russia 24 times. Because of the invasion on Ukraine, Russia is banned from the upcoming European Championship, meaning Karpova can’t play. The BBC’s Alexandra Vladimirova interviewed her at a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona, where the player moved in 2017.

Vladimirova says that Nadya arrived early and ordered a hotpot. Though the 27-year-old was hungry she is said not to have even looked at the hot pot once.

Vladimirova writes, “She is careful with her words. But it is not that she is trying to censor herself – even though a new Russian law can lead up to 15 years in jail for spreading anything that authorities consider to be ‘fake news’ about the military.”

She also says that “She isn’t afraid to say something wrong, as is common among Russian athletes. Instead she is afraid of forgetting something important… The longer the interview goes on, the less careful she becomes.”

As the interview goes on, Karpova says “Russian propaganda is trying to persuade Russians that we are a very special nation and the whole world is against us and our ‘unique mission.’”

“What unique mission are you talking about? I don’t think that Russians are special. At the same time, I am not ashamed to be Russian, as Russia doesn’t mean the government and Vladimir Putin.”

“Putin took everything from us, he took our future. At the same time, he did it with our tacit consent. They [the government], didn’t witness strong resistance. Most people were just closing their eyes to injustice, thinking it’s not their business.”

“I took part in two opposition rallies, the last one in support of [main Russian opposition figure Alexei] Navalny when he was poisoned and imprisoned, but still, I don’t think that I’ve done enough.”

“These people who justify the war, they are hostages to propaganda. I feel sorry for them, and I believe we need to do everything to release them from it.”

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