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Natalia Ryzhkova



How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you?
Please tell this story in detail.

At that time I was 21 years old, I worked in a choreographic team. My children were afraid that because of the events in Luhansk and Donetsk, this war and destruction would reach our small town as well, but I was reassuring them, saying that this would never happen, I truly believed that this could not happen, but when the war came to our city, it got really scary. On the first day, when we were shelled, I was simply panicking, sitting with a suitcase in the corridor and waiting for my neighbor to come and take me to the basement. She did come over, but not to take me away, just to ask for a bay leaf, because she was cooking borscht. It struck me, because then I realized that everyone perceives such stress in different ways. Almost the entire summer of 2014, our city was covered in chaos and uncertainty, because there was no Internet, television, sometimes no electricity and water, ATMs did not work, people were left without any means of living, the only connection was a landline phone, whoever still had one…

"Where were you these 8 years?".
How has this time passed for you, what changed in your life since the events of 2014?
What has influenced you the most during this time?
Please write in detail.

All these 8 years I stayed in the city of Rubishne. I received two high educations at the Luhansk Universities, which were forcibly relocated to Kyiv and Poltava at that time, and got a job at the Luhansk Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater, which was also relocated to the city of Severodonetsk. I worked there for 6 years. 
All these years we were among those who promoted Ukrainian culture and art in our region.

What was February 24, 2022 for you like?
Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin?Where are you now? What do you do?

What do you think about your future now?

I woke up on February 24 at 6 a.m., receiving a phone call with the words: "The war has begun." We did not believe that this would happen, but having the experience of 2014, we understood what would be necessary to do and the need to do it quickly, without hesitation. After the call, we had 20 minutes to pack up and get to the station. Having stopped a taxi on the street, we went to the railway station, where the Lysychansk-Uzhgorod train was supposed to arrive. It was ironic  that when we tearfully asked to get on the train without a ticket (with bags, a cat and panic), the conductors did not want to take us, because they did not yet know that the war had begun. But the world is not without good people: when they found out about what had happened, they began to take all the people at all the stations. Due to shelling, our train took 36 hours to reach its destination. Now my family and I are in the city of Drohobych, which warmly welcomed and sheltered us in such a difficult time. Currently, I am not doing anything, but I am waiting for the beginning of the academic season to get a job in my profession. I don't know about my future, I don't even try to plan anything, much like everyone else, I think. Since there is a war in our country, you can't be sure of tomorrow morning or evening. The first thing we all need is a 6 a.m. phone call: “The war is over! Ukraine won! Glory to Ukraine!"

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