Mikhail Golubtsov, a Russian hotel owner, says it was partly the remorse he feels for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that prompted him and his family to take in 34 Ukrainians escaping the war.
The Russian former construction engineer fled his homeland in 2014 in protest of Moscow’s “illegal” invasion of Crimea, and now manages a small but cozy guesthouse in central Serbia’s lush hills.
Before the conflict, Golubtsov’s guests were largely city dwellers on weekend getaways to the countryside. Most rooms are now occupied by Ukrainian refugees, who can remain at the hotel for free for as long as they require.
“The first seven people arrived because a friend gave them the address, … now they are simply arriving,” said Golubtsov
According to the United Nations, 3.8 million Ukrainians have migrated abroad since the war began, many of them have gone to Poland and Romania. So far, just about 2,500 people have visited Serbia, largely as a stopover on their way to Western Europe. Ukrainian families were forced to split up at the Romanian border as Ukraine had made it illegal for able-bodied men to leave the nation.