Wow the war started for me? On February 23rd we stayed up late. I didn’t go to bed until two or three in the morning. In the early morning we were woken up by explosions. We had expected this whole process, but now it came as a shock. I was particularly surprised by the Russian attack on Kyiv. Already in the first days this attack stopped in front of the capital of the Ukraine put. At the beginning of April the troops withdrew completely from there. What Russia was planning was stupid.
I am 43 years old and grew up in the Donbass region. Not far, about 60 kilometers from our city of Sloviansk, the so-called “People’s Republics” came into being in 2014 with Russian help. I experienced a lot back then. Our city was captured for a short time, then the Ukrainian army expelled the attackers. I feel Ukrainian because I live in Ukraine, even though Russian was our family language. My parents are Ukrainians. My grandfather was Russian.
Eight years have passed, and today our country is experiencing a new situation. Now many people in our country are changing languages and turning to Ukrainian in everyday life in order to express their attitude as citizens in today’s situation. And our neighboring country? We no longer say “Russia”, we call the country “Rusnja” (roughly “Russian”, ed.). Or we speak of the occupiers as “racists”. In Russia it was fashionable to jokingly call his country “Rasha”, echoing the English term (Russia). From this we have now made the term “racists”. That sounds a bit like “fascists”.
“So, I said, you have to get out”
My wife Taisija and our two children, aged twelve and ten, have now fled to Italy. When Russia took Crimea away in 2014 and the war in Donbass started, it was done bit by bit back then, I had to convince my wife for a long time that the situation was still going to get dangerous. Only when we were woken up one day by a salvo from a submachine gun in front of our block of flats did she agree with my idea and we set off for western Ukraine. At the time, my companies were worth about $630,000. All the same, after a short time the situation in Sloviansk stabilized, we returned and life went on.
This year, persuasion took just five minutes. So, I said, you have to get out. They left with tears in their eyes. During the Donbass war in 2014, I always said: There is security over there, behind the next checkpoint of the Ukrainian army. This time the war is affecting the whole country, and security only begins behind the border posts, i.e. abroad. My wife has now rented an apartment in northern Italy. We didn’t want the children to have to live in a refugee home. You go to an Italian school now.
In Sloviansk, a small, big city, I basically had a computer service – it doesn’t exist anymore – and an Internet portal for the residents. Taisija is our CFO. Now she is looking for projects, for sponsors for us. We have a grant from Internews Ukraine for four months. We can live on that for a while. But all this is just a help to survive, this is not stability. This is how you move from project to project.