Geopolitics

Escaping Ukraine, Fleeing to Russia, Three Refugee Families Interviewed by American Orthodox Priest

“There were explosions, planes were flying, like you could hear it all. . . . Some houses were on fire. Some houses were just missing . . . They were shooting heavily.”

“People in Ukraine who think they are fighting for freedom . . . they don’t understand what freedom is.”

“There were explosions, planes were flying, like you could hear it all. . . . Some houses were on fire. Some houses were just missing . . . They were shooting heavily.”

“This [Metropolitan] Philaret is scary . . . it was shown on TV, he stood in front of people, in church, and said, ‘Don’t feel sorry for those people who are in Donbass. You don’t have to feel sorry for them.'”

“In Ukraine, when people disagree with what the authorities are doing, they are dealt with . . . They just come and take a person away, and that’s it. Nobody knows where he is.”

“When I left home, my father gave me a psalter. There are two particular psalms which are very, very helpful in cases like these. I read them, and they were reading them at home. So, believe it or not, even though almost everything nearby was destroyed, our house was left almost completely whole. My parents were constantly reading the psalms.”


Sergei & Liya, with their children Evgeny and Ekaterina, were living in Volnovakha, a town of over 20,000 people in the Donbass region of Ukraine. They had been present for the referendum, when nearly 90% of the region’s residents voted to cut ties with Ukraine. They survived the Maidan revolution of 2014 and the eight years of military hostilities that followed afterwards. In February 2022, when Russian troops entered the area to liberate the region from the neverending Ukrainian attacks, the Ukrainian military responded with even heavier shelling of the area. This family’s hometown has now been almost completely destroyed.

The Church of St. Nicholas in the town of Volnovakha (Donbass region) in 2018

Sergei & Liya needed a safe place for their family to live, and they didn’t want to stay in the Donbass region any longer. Now refugees, they made the decision to settle in Russia. They came to Yaroslavl, one of the key cities in Russia’s Golden Ring.

This is where I met them, in a village not far from Yaroslavl. Finally able to sleep at night, no longer waking up to the sounds of shelling and gunfire, they seemed peaceful, content. Sergei and Liya proceeded to tell me what their life had been like, while still living in the Donbass region:

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Categories: Geopolitics

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