Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Wanted: Lost Connections

Reading some of the appeals on Doski.ru sometimes feels like intruding on a stranger’s pain. Luckily, at other times you just intrude on wild, hopeless optimism.

A man posts a photo of himself — hopefully not one of his best, and probably not one of his worst — and shouts in Cyrillic capitals. “HELLO, ANASTASIA. IF YOU KNOW HER, HELP ME FIND HER.”

There are a few of these kinds of messages in the provincial areas of the “Lost Connections” section on Doski: a man usually looking for the woman of his daydreams.

There aren’t any of the “I saw you on the metro; you were wearing leopard skin; I was wearing moose fur” ones that you see in Moscow.

One is in Portuguese: a photo of a man, Yuri, and an oblique message about him having a daughter. Are they looking to reunite him with his daughter or shame him into paying alimony?

Others are of the nostalgic, schooldays type.

Eduard rambles on about two children, Irina and Denis, whom he knew in kindergarten when he was 5 or 6. He’s only 20, but has drifted back to those soft days of his not-so-distant youth in Ulyanovsk.

“My cupboard had a corncob drawn on it. One of my bosom buddies was Denis and the other, Irina; I don’t know her surname. Me and Irina often fought; our cupboards were close together. She was a dark-looking girl. Apart from the cupboards, our beds were also close together. Ah, yes, and in the courtyard, there was a girl, Katya.”

Meanwhile, others just send messages to people who don’t want to speak to them.

“Lena,” writes Volodya, who explains who he is by saying the “son of Auntie Shura.” He scolds her: “You were in town, but you didn’t pop in. That’s not good.”

But a lot of them are just stories of relatives separated, lost in a vast country by family strains or economic necessity or desire — or just missing in the brutal way of walking out the door one day and not returning, as one seeker tells.

A woman looks for her sister whom she lost contact with 14 years ago. A woman in her 80s looks for relatives in Kazan. A father for his daughter, “How can I get in touch with you, my little daughter?”

The messages are a basic version of one of Russia’s most-famous television programs, “Zhdi Menya,” or “Wait for Me,” which brings together lost relatives, friends, mothers, daughters and fathers.

The country’s history has torn many a family apart in Soviet times, and tens of thousands of people go missing in modern Russia each year. So people start looking.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more