Natalya Androsova began standing in line for milk, meat, and bread when was five years old in Siberia, Russia.
Standing in line didn’t always guarantee that there would be food, however, because there were frequent shortages, as was the Soviet custom.
Though Siberia was rich in minerals, the centralized economy left the people of the region, such as her family, working hard with little pay.
Weighted with responsibilities with which most American children might be unfamiliar, Androsova combined her schoolwork with chores, and as she grew older, she found herself longing for a place that she had read about, where read freedom rang with prosperity.
It wasn’t until years after she and her husband arrived in America in 1999 that she saw a shadow over the Liberty Bell that had been cast by some who wanted to reduce American freedoms in the name of fairness, which she knew from first hand experience would manufacture the strained economic conditions she thought she had left behind in Russia.
Never has that agenda been more pronounced as it was with COVID-19, Androsova told The Epoch Times, when she said she could see how easy it would be to transform the United States into a country with communist ideologies during a time when small businesses and churches were closed, while large, corporate chains and liquor stores remained open.
“I did not expect so many Americans to be so compliant,” Androsova said. “I realize we are law-abiding citizens, but that was clearly government overreach.”
In 2021, Androsova helped form the grassroots initiative Russian-Speaking Americans for Freedom (RSAF) in Raleigh, North Carolina, with other multinational American citizens whose primary language is Russian.
The purpose was to bring the Russian-speaking community together, she said, to get involved in local politics.
“Because we all grew up in the socialist Soviet Union with the implementation of communism in our homeland, we know exactly what is happening because we’ve seen this before,” Androsova said.
RSAF seeks to educate Americans of the group’s experiences under communism “and how it’s detrimental to society,” because, according to Androsova, the ideology is “upon us.”
Censorship, Marxist propaganda, and manufactured scarcity that create dependence on government are among the signs pointing toward a communist society that has, in its initial stages, sold itself as equality for all, while in reality only benefitting the elite, she said.
“It seems history is repeating itself,” Androsova said. “The middle-class is being targeted because we are self-sufficient and don’t depend on the government. The more people depend on the government, the more they will roll over and not ask questions.”
‘We’ve Seen This Before And We Know Where it Leads’
Janna Badalian, the co-founding chair of RSAF, grew up in a family of Soviet scientists living in a university town in Siberia, where, despite being of a slightly more privileged class, she still experienced the fear, poverty, and lack of opportunity and freedoms that socialism brought with it, Badalian told The Epoch Times.
And the direction the United States has taken over the last two years, Badalian said, is familiar for her.
“I’ve experienced this first hand, and we don’t want to repeat this in this great country. So that’s what has motivated us to get our butts off the couch, so to speak, and start working,” Badalian said.
The growing reliance on government—a hallmark of socialism—not only impacts people economically, she said, but it also “kills the spirit.”
“Seventy years of socialism in Russia fundamentally affected the mentality of people and the soul,” Badalian said. “The key feature is the absolute reliance on the government and the deep fear to act as a self-reliant individual,” Badalian said.
Badalian called it a “learned helplessness.”
“I’m seeing a lot of people here expecting a lot from the government, such as free education, free health care, and free supplemental income, and I just know from my experience that nothing is free,” she said. “When you get a free education, you get some kind of communist brainwashing like the Communist Manifesto shoved down our throats.”
Children had to learn it by heart, she said.
“Here, it’s not the Communist Manifesto, but it’s Critical Race Theory, or some other such rubbish,” she said. “Every great work of literature we read and every historical event was analyzed through the lens of a class struggle: oppressed peasants or workers versus their oppressors: the aristocracy.”
Free health care, she said, brings a two- to three-tiered system in which ordinary citizens inevitably receive the lowest level of care, while the “small party bosses” receive a “slightly better level of care,” and the “big party bosses, like our congressional representatives, get a limousine plan and access to the best doctors.”
Like Androsova, Badalian said she was disturbed by the blind acceptance by Americans of COVID-19 restrictions that she said “proved to be utterly useless.”
“Once the government seizes an area of your life, it’s almost impossible to wrestle it back out of its clutches because people become emotionally dependent on these programs, handouts, restrictions, and the false promises.”
A tyrant’s ultimate goal, she said, is to reduce its citizens to a state of dependency by eliminating the free spirit.
“We’ve seen this before and we know where it leads,” she said. “The best intentions pave the road to hell, always. And we want to warn people that this great country that is now our second motherland … where it’s heading and we want to work actively to prevent that from happening.”
‘I Want My Children to Grow Up in the Country I Moved To, and Not the One I Moved From’
RSAF’s mission, Badalian said, is also to educate voters and to endorse Republican candidates like Irina Comer, a Russian American from Moscow, who is running in the General Election for a seat on the Wake County Board of Commissioners in Raleigh, where as a result of it being an all-Democrat board “for many years,” she told The Epoch Times, there’s been no “diversity of thought.”
Comer moved to New York in 2010 where she graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business. She now lives with her family in Cary, North Carolina, where she owns and operates her own business brokerage company that provides business valuation services for small business owners and helps small business owners to sell their businesses.
While not a “glamorous office,” Comer said the board and its decisions impact every major aspect of Wake County operations, including property taxes, zoning, schools, parks, libraries, and the sheriff’s office.
If elected, Comer said her background in finance, including public audit, financial analysis, and mergers and acquisitions, would bring much-needed experience to the board.
“This is a very important government body that is often overlooked, but it touches the lives of residents in many ways every day,” Comer said.
The more Comer said she’s observed politics shift left, the more that average, middle-class families with traditional values get marginalized, she said.
“I was very happy to move to a red state,” she said. “I always wanted to move down South because I believe it’s a better environment to raise children. It has better values. What I found, however, was that Wake County is more of a blue dot within a red state.”
And with many people moving from blue states like California or New York to North Carolina, she said, with them comes their votes for expensive, left-leaning policies that weigh on the taxpayer.
“I want to make sure that Wake County preserves its unique character and our conservative values,” she said. “I want to make sure that our tax burden is reasonable, and that we think not only in terms of tax rates but also in terms of property values. We need to be mindful of both, and reduce rates sufficiently when property values rise materially.”
Instead of concentrating on how to get the most revenue, Comer said she wants to look at how to control the growth of expenses, while separating “needs” from the “wants” to demonstrate financial discipline.
“We should actively evaluate whether the money we spend is returning a sufficient benefit to residents. A tax base should always be viewed as finite, and if programs are not delivering value, then they should be cut and replaced with programs that do,” she said.
On the national scale, Comer recognizes the exchange of “free hand-outs” for censorship and infringement on individual rights, an exchange that precedes the age-old swindle.
“The problem is, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens little by little when our freedoms are taken away; a little bit here, a little bit there,” Comer said.
All the while, the media will tell its audience there’s no corruption, she said.
“It’s directly out of the Soviet Union playbook,” Comer said. “If you disagree with the media, a whole mob attacks you. Facts are ignored.”
She also wants to see the United States get back on track with its founding values at a local level.
“I care what country we will leave for our children,” she said. “I put a lot of effort to move to America, and I want my children to grow up in the country I moved to, and not the one I moved from.”
The Sleeping Giant
Elena Gatt, also an RSAF member, grew up in Moscow and moved to California before landing in North Carolina.
When speaking at events, she tells the audience, “I escaped socialism twice: once in post-Soviet Russia, and then a second time in California,” where she said socialist policies were being approved without notice in local municipalities.
“I know how dangerous it is to ignore how freedoms are being taken away bit-by-bit,” she said. “And then, one day, you wake up and you’re under house arrest, just like we were during the COVID lockdowns.”
Gatt, like Comer, moved to North Carolina because she said she felt it was populated by citizens who upheld values that reflected her own.
Then, people moving from blue states brought the votes for policies that created the inability to live in those places from where they chose to move, Gatt said, and like many “useful idiots” of the Communist Party, those who are in favor of communist schemes often think they will land with the privileged group of people on the top.
“Unfortunately, this is not so, as we’ve seen in Soviet history with the massive repression and Gulag system,” Gatt said.
According to some historical accounts, by 1940 the prison colonies had incarcerated up to 18 million inmates, with only estimations as to the unrecorded death toll.
Anyone disloyal to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s centralized agenda was sent to the Gulag camps, where for many, death from starvation, disease, exhaustion, and execution was their only exit.
Though at times it seems as if America has been too overshadowed by socialist agendas dressed up as “government assistance,” Gatt said there’s still hope in the Founding Documents, such as the United States Constitution.
“No one can argue with this,” she said. “It’s the supreme law of the land. My hope [is] that it’s not shredded, as it’s clear that many people in power want to do.”
For many Americans, freedom goes unnoticed because it’s always been, and when it’s taken, it’s taken in increments, she said. But the Constitution hasn’t changed.
In any country that has experimented with socialism, Gatt said, the principles protected by the First and Second Amendments have always been targets of those who seek to implement the socialist policies. And they always argue that “this time, it will be different.”
“I still hear this, especially from young people, that this time, they will do it better,” she said. “Many have no idea what they are about to lose as they sit on the couch and drink beer. They don’t realize how good their life is, and it’s because the Constitution has protected their freedoms.”
And that’s the purpose of RSAF, Gatt said; to educate people on what it was like for those under Soviet rule and how cleverly socialist policies are sold to the public.
“We don’t want our children living in the society we fled from,” she said.
For Androsova, who keeps her home stocked with groceries amid talk of possible food shortages, the idea of standing in line for bread isn’t a ridiculous notion.
“I live by different modes, and I’m always prepared, given what I’ve witnessed,” Androsova said.
Still, she’s an optimist, she said/ And if a food shortage were to come, it would be a difficulty Americans could overcome.
“Even though it may be sleeping, America is a sleeping giant, I believe,” she said. “Americans will wake up to the tyrannical government and there will be push back on a massive scale.”