Generations: The Russian Divide

Anfisa Kolotovskaya was born in Siberia and spent many years worshipping in secret as a Pentecostal; today, she lives in rural southern Missouri.
Credit KSMU Radio

The Ozarks region called out to Russian-speaking immigrant families after the fall of the Iron Curtain; many of the individuals who settled here left behind them years of persecution and worshipping in secret.

Now, their community is experiencing growth as a second generation emerges. The series "Generations" investigates the social and political challenges between old and young in this unique immigrant community.

The series is reported by Missouri State University journalism students as part of their International Reporting class, taught by KSMU contributor and MSU Journalist-in-Residence Jennifer Moore.  "Generations"  airs on Ozarks Public Radio the week of December 11 at 7:45 AM, and will be archived below.

Citing Religious Values, Russian-Speaking Families Lean Republican

Dec 14, 2017
KSMU Radio

Lyubov Chernioglo sits with her daughter, Larisa Zubko, and reflects on her days in the former Soviet Union — the days of her earliest memories of politics and going to vote. As her mother speaks in Russian, Larisa translates.

"So, the candidate was already chosen, and they must, they had to, give their votes for that same person. They didn’t have a choice," Zubko says.

In the 2016 election, her family threw their support behind the Republican candidate:  now President Donald Trump.

Immigrant Daughters Navigate Controversial Women's Issues

Dec 13, 2017
Ryan Welch / KSMU Radio

Editor's note:  The names in this story have been changed because the sources were concerned about privacy. 

A young woman, whom we're calling Elena, is sitting with her friend in a coffee shop in downtown Springfield.  

Elena's parents are from the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States before she was born.

“It’s very common for, like, Russian girls to get married very young and, like, stay in the household,” Elena said.

Men usually are expected to earn the income in her family, she said.

Remembering His Underground Church, a Pastor Tries to Unify Old and Young

Dec 12, 2017
Ryan Welch / KSMU Radio

Rows of chairs line the modern sanctuary, filled with worshippers from teens to older adults. Some pray in Russian; others are speaking in tongues.

The Bread of Life Church is affiliated with the Assemblies of God.  It’s nestled in a rural part of Christian County, Missouri, surrounded by fields, a few homes, and farm roads.

Nicholi Illyuk, born in Ukraine in the 1960s, is the pastor.

It was different in the Soviet Union. Christians who practiced outside the state-sponsored Orthodox church didn’t worship openly – they hid.

As Native Language Fades, Ozarks Immigrants Take on New Identity

Dec 11, 2017
KSMU Radio

On a rainy morning outside her church near Willow Springs, Missouri, Anastasia Gantyuk sits in her minivan with two of her children. A kids' DVD plays in the Russian language while they wait for the school bus. 

Anastasia was born in Tajikistan and moved to Russia at age six to avoid ethnic fighting. Her dad was a fireman; her mother, a farm hand.

She says some of the older members of the Russian-speaking community here fear that the younger generation is losing the language that holds them together.