TOKYO (majirox news) – On January 24, 2011, Marina Babenko was waiting for a group of tourists from Japan in the arrival zone at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport when a terrorist bomb claimed her life. The attack was a suicide bombing by Islamist rebels that killed 37 people and wounded 100.
The 45-year-old woman was one of many who lost their lives, but she was the only person who had a deep affinity with Japan. She often worked with high-ranking delegations and the Japanese community in Moscow.
“Her Japanese was excellent, and she translated for my school and our exhibitions,” said Keiko Kato, who owns a school in Moscow that teaches students how to make press flowers. Babenko was a popular Japanese interpreter who had strong ties to Japan.
Kato and Babenko had developed a strong relationship, and soon she was voluntarily helping Kato and other Japanese who lived in Moscow. “We never had a chance to thank her for everything she did for us (Japanese),” Kato said.
According to the president of the Association of Guides, Alexander Osipov, Marina also worked with art lovers and art critics. She loved taking the Japanese on tours of the Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum. The president also noted that she was an easygoing, happy person who always regarded problems with humor and irony.
Babenko was well known for having brought Japanese culture to the Russians. She always had a fascination with Japan and dreamed of going there one day. She finally did go with her husband and two children and studied culture, history and language in Otaru, Hokkaido, and Tokyo. She and her family ended up staying there for five years.
Her daughter, Oksana, is already following in her mother’s steps. She studied Japanese at the Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University, where her mother had also attended. Oksana came to Japan last year and is now attending Tokai University in Kanagawa Prefecture. In the future, she hopes to lead tour groups and to share Japanese culture with the Russians.
Babenko had planned to visit her daughter in Japan this month and was excited about the trip.