top of page

Kseniya Yanus and Vadym Oliynykov



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.

In 2014, I was 16, and Vadym was 23. That year I was supposed to finish high school. We started dating in August 2013 and immediately knew that we wanted to get married. We planned to move to Crimea after I get my diploma. I wanted to enter the faculty of philosophy at the Taurida National University in Simferopol.
Back in 2013, we bought tickets in advance for the concert of one of our favorite bands — Psychic TV, which was scheduled to take place on May 28 in Kharkiv. We were looking forward to the trip, but it was not destined to happen. The concert was first postponed, and then canceled. In May, from that returned money we bought train tickets on the Donetsk-Uzhgorod train and left our hometown forever.
The point of no return was March 2014, when Donetsk became one of the centers of the separatist movement. But it met resistance from the pro-Ukrainian local population. We were among those who did not support pro-russian sentiments and tried to express it loudly. Rallies became the main ground for this. March 13, 2014 — a rally for the Unity of Ukraine — was the turning point, the day when we realized the inevitability of war.
The central square was divided in half - the separatists who were brought here with local titushkas stood under the monument to Lenin, and peaceful pro-Ukrainian citizens on the opposite side of the square. "Ikarus" buses were also standing near the monument to Lenin, on which "anti-Maidan activists" were brought. Donetsk was touristy perhaps during Euro-2012, but a few days before that many "tourists" appeared in Donetsk. I was repeatedly asked on the street how to walk or drive somewhere. Even on the way to the rally, they asked for directions to the square.
Our peaceful assembly was pelted with “zelenka”, explosive packages, and eggs. Among us were elderly people and parents with children, but the separatists did not stop their aggressive actions. Even during the speech of the priest who called everyone to peace (in Donetsk there was mainly the Moscow Patriarchate, but that didn't stop them either). When it became clear that the anti-Maidan protesters would break through the police line, the guys defending the rally came up to us and told us to disperse, explaining the safest ways to retreat. It ended with the police allowing the anti-Maidan activists to break through to us and start a fight. The numerical advantage was not in our favor. One guy from our side was killed - 22-year-old student from Bakhmut, Dmytro Chernyavskyi. This was the first victim of separatists in Donbas.
Soon, checkpoints began to appear around the city, people with weapons and without identification started guarding the bus stops. Against this background, numerous pro-Ukrainian rallies continued to take place. They also did not go without violence from the separatists.
A trip on a trolley bus around the outskirts of the city was forever etched in my memory - I looked out the window, and military vehicles with chechens drove by, they were brandishing machine guns, laughing and waving their hands.
We left on the last day of spring 2014, even before the start of active hostilities. And then every day we had to receive alarming news. My friends were captured - "to the basements", where the Ukrainian military was tortured close by. In September, the house where my mother and grandmother stayed was shelled. My mother was at work, and my grandmother was concussed and died a few days later.
The Russian occupation became a tragedy, but it was not a surprise. The conditions in which people lived and worked in Donetsk, the way they treated each other, their perverted values ​​and hopes — all this inevitably led to war. We always wanted to escape from this impoverished steppe city, stretched between mines and terricones, but not at such a price.
We chose Uzhhorod by chance, at first we wanted to go to Lviv. But a few weeks before departure, we learned that our friend DJ Maksym Rudskyi and his girlfriend had already left and rented a house in a village near Uzhhorod. He then suggested that we go here too, so we did. In two days, we rented an apartment and soon sheltered two of our friends — Oleksandr and Ruslan, who also left Donetsk. Since we were all musicians inspired by the dark scene, in October 2014, while living together, we decided to create a DIY post-punk project. This is how the band Dahau Holidays was born.
In 2015, Vadim and I got married. In the same year, together with friends from Uzhhorod and Rivne, we decided to organize our own label. We called it Nava Records.
The first release of Nava Records was the album "Night after rave" by the post-punk new wave band Save Switzerland, whose vocalist Danya Senichkin (Bejenec) was also a refugee from Donetsk. Nine albums were subsequently released on CD and cassettes by Nava Records.
In 2014-2016, I studied at UzhNU at the Faculty of russian Philology. I chose this specialty by chance, I simply submitted documents to those faculties that were suitable for the subjects of the ZNO exam that I passed. The first call was from the Faculty of Philology, they said that I passed, I did not wait for calls from other faculties. After moving, I was very mentally exhausted. It was a time when I reflected on how my childhood in Donetsk affected me, but I was happy that I moved.

"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.

In 2016, Vadym and I moved to Odesa to work in the city's first vegan cafe. It was a dream job for us - we have been ethical vegans for many years: Vadim since 2010, and I since 2012, and we first met at an animal protection march in Donetsk. The main idea that we also try to portray in our music is that nobody must suffer.
That year we released the first Dahau Holidays clip and decided to freeze the project.

We continued to make music in other projects: "Klymentovo Pole" and "Orfos"
​​Since 2016, we started working in the editorial office of the media about contemporary Ukrainian music —, Vadim wrote reviews and articles, and I was the editor of the "Reviews" section.
In 2018, we decided to try working abroad. We wanted to experience life in Europe from the inside, not as tourists, we wanted to earn money to buy musical instruments and equipment. We went to work in the Czech Republic twice — at a warehouse and a factory. It was very hard work, but it gave me invaluable experience — it helped us get to know ourselves and each other from new angles. We also learned what thousands of our countrymen are going through in search of a "better life"..
In 2020, during the pandemic, I started working as an editor in a regional media and returned to the editorial office of Neformat, but already as a grant manager. Since 2022, working at Neformat has become the main thing for me. During these 8 years, we managed to work in various vegan businesses and throughout this time continued to write music.
And Donetsk continued to appear in our dreams all this time and did not let go of us - its shadow continued to hang over us, we often dreamed of war. On February 24, these dreams became reality.

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?

The premonition of a full-scale war haunted us since the fall of 2021, so we were mentally preparing for the fact that the story of forced relocation would repeat itself for us. We kept talking about what would be the red line - after which we would start packing. Odesa seemed to us a very dangerous place because of the access to the sea and stereotypes about it being a  "russian city".
However, the war came suddenly. After Russia's recognition of the "LPR", we thought we still had at least a week to pack our things, bought tickets for February 25 and started preparing for departure.
On February 24, at 7 a.m., Vadim woke me up and said that Odesa had already been shelled. We quickly collected the things we could and constantly updated the website of Ukraine railways hoping that tickets for the evening would appear. As soon as we saw that an additional evacuation train showed up in the evening, we bought a ticket and left for Lviv.
I will always remember how I woke up at night in the compartment and saw that on the top shelf a student from India was watching the news about Kyiv and crying. And in the neighboring compartments, passengers rocked crying children and tried to calm frightened animals. The war that haunted me in night terrors for 8 years became a terrible reality again.
In Uzhgorod, we stayed with our friends, colleagues from Neformat. From the first day, we started looking for where we could be useful — we started weaving camouflage nets. A week later, they saw an announcement about a charity vegan kitchen, came to distribute food and offered to become volunteers. And for 5 months now, we have been preparing vegan dinners for immigrants in the "Vegan Kitchen of Ukraine" project from the NGO "Every Animal".
In May, we met Yevhen Kasyan (Kurs Valüt) in Uzhhorod, whom we had known for a long time - he gave us a concert in Dnipro. Zhenya invited us to take part in the creation of an audiovisual show. He gathered a team of 5 immigrant musicians and now we are working on the implementation of the project - STEREOMYTH. You can read more on it here -
Parallel to this, we are focused on our main project - Dahau Holidays. Now Dahau Holidays is a duo: me and Vadim. When moving from Odesa, we had to leave some of our instruments behind and sell some. Therefore, we have to use the resources available now: a computer and headphones, but this is not enough to implement our creative plans. Our first album was born under the influence of the war in 2014, the current terrible phase of the war also prompted us to start writing new songs.

bottom of page