From a railroad worker to a family: Vladimir Bespalaya, a lawyer and Ilya’s legal guardian during the February 24 invasion of Mariupol
When Russian forces invaded their country, Vladimir and Maria were worried about the future of their dream of starting a family through adoption.
The first day of war was February 24, and Vladimir Bespalov was a railroad worker. “We thought we were too late. We realized we were already in a state of war, and we thought we could no longer adopt.”
The situation pushed the couple to do it sooner. “We were waiting to earn more money, have a better car, buy a house, and build something to give our children first. When the war started we thought about adopting a child now and using it as a family.
It was a volunteer who would reach out to those fleeing Mariupol weeks later, a city that became a symbol of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruthless campaign to take Ukrainian land.
Residents were forced underground for weeks while Russian troops pummeled the city with artillery. It is now a virtual wasteland, with nearly every building damaged or destroyed, and an unknown number of dead beneath the rubble.
Police later learned that his mother was killed after she left home to find food for her family.
The people were drinking alcohol and the kids were attacking him. He was starving and freezing,” Bespalaya told CNN in a hushed voice. She doesn’t want to bring up Ilya’s experience with trauma in front of him but he has told a woman everything about his terrifying three weeks in the basement, she says.
Bespalov and Bespalaya are now Ilya’s legal guardians. They are a family for more than six months, and they plan to formally adopt him as soon as possible. All adoption processes are currently suspended in Ukraine due to martial law.
Like any parents, the young couple are fiercely protective of Ilya, sheltering him from the horrors of war the best they can and trying to give him a sense of security and stability.
You try to take your mind off the fighting and spend more time with your child. We try to create memories of a normal childhood. Work takes time, but we spend every free moment together,” said Bespalov, who as a crucial railroad worker has not been called up for military service.
But there is nothing normal about war. A nursery with a white crib and blue bedding and a bunk bed were set up in the spare rooms after they posted their appeal on social media.
I stopped being afraid of adoption. She told CNN she was confident she could care for people and deal with their character, because she was sure they would have a child.
Only One Year, the Secret Life of a Dwarf Family and Stalin’s Daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva
That plan was also shattered by war. The two were forced to leave their home in Slovyansk in the frontier Donetsk region, for Kyiv.
They finally got the call from the volunteer in Mariupol who said they could care for a little boy with no parents.
They were going to meet the boy who became part of their family the following morning, after they had traveled for two days to Dnipro.
That love is what makes you a family. We did not have this baby, but our love is real,” Bespalaya said, with Ilya cuddled between her and Bespalov on a playground bench in Kyiv.
Despite their happiness as a new family unit, life is tougher for Ilya in the evenings, when the capital experiences rolling blackouts caused by Russia’s sustained attacks on the power grid – leaving the family without electricity for hours at a time.
In her memoir, Only One Year, Svetlana Alliluyeva mentioned her fate and said that I quoted from her biography. She writes: “You are Stalin’s daughter. You are already dead. Your life is over. You can’t live your own life. You can not live any more. You exist only because of a name.
It would seem that Kim is grooming his child to follow in his footsteps. A new postage stamp in North Korea has photos of the dictator and his beloved daughter standing together at the test firing of the intercontinental missile.
Ironically, the photo exactly mirrors one taken almost 100 years ago of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin standing on a similar balcony in Moscow reviewing a military parade with a young girl standing beside him.
Both children looked to have the dictator’s attention. I think that the daughter of a dictator has a difficult situation. What will Kim Ju Ae’s future be?
He said that his father, Vasily Stalin, was a product of the freeloaders and the people who surrounded him. But Svetlana was her father’s daughter. She did not have his evil as she had his intelligence, will, and organized intelligence.
All this changed when Svetlana was 16 and had her first chaste love affair with a famous filmmaker Aleksei Kapler, who was 39 (the same age as Stalin when he married Svetlana’s mother.) Stalin exiled Kapler to the Gulag for 10 years for having the audacity to romance his daughter. When she began to comprehend who her father was, this was when she began to understand. Her status as beloved depended on many things.
She wrote that wherever she went, she would be the political prisoner of her father’s name.
Burdonsky told me that a dictators children have either to completely reject their heritage or follow in their father’s footsteps. He said that she was caught in between. She did not defend her father’s murderousness, but she thought he had been turned into a sinkhole for all the evil of his regime.
She said her father was aware of what he was doing in her memoir. “He was neither insane nor misled. With cold calculation he cemented his power, afraid of losing it more than anything else in the world.” But a dictator needs accomplices. She had the courage to reject the head of the homicidal system.
This makes me think of Putin. We know absolutely nothing about Kim Jung Un’s daughter or Putin’s two daughters, Mariya and Katerina. As children of the “first person,” people are careful not to speak about them; to do so would be dangerous.
They were in disguise and went to school under assumed names, but their classmates didn’t know that; they had to have guards at home and at the movies. Told that Putin loves his children and spoils them, a journalist once asked if the girls had Putin wrapped around their little fingers. Papa can’t wrap a finger around it.
It appears that Putin’s daughters have chosen their father’s side. It is reported that Katerina is head of a new AI institute at Moscow State University and is said to be worth several billion. Mariya leads a state funded genetics program that has received billions from the Kremlin, according to US officials. Supposedly neither have political ambitions, which is reportedly the way Putin wants it.