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Greeks in Dnipro, Ukraine Speak to TNH

February 28, 2022

ATHENS – The dramatic hours living in the middle of the war in the city of Dnipro in Ukraine were described by two young people of Greek descent there in an interview with The National Herald.

They are Vika Gokun, whose grandmother comes from Ai Strati in Lemnos (she speaks perfect Greek) and Alexander Houdobir, whose mother is of Pontian descent with the family name of Kefalidis.

The two young people try to keep their cool, but that does not mean that they are not afraid, as is the case with most (if not all) residents of this third largest city in Ukraine (with a population of about one million), which is located southeast of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, on the banks of the Dnieper River.

“We are relatively quiet in Dnipro at the moment, there are no strikes, except for those that took place on the morning of Friday, February 25, the second day of the war. But we live with anxiety and fear, like everyone here after all. We expect the Russians to start hitting here at some point,” said Vika, who has made no secret of the fact that she wants to leave the country with her sister and mother, but that is dangerous.

“Anyone who has a car can take it and leave the country. But it is very dangerous because the roads that lead out of the country, to Moldova or Poland pass near Kyiv where there is fighting. There are no buses operating outside of Ukraine and trains that do so take you to Lviv, on the other side of Ukraine on an 11-hour journey. Meanwhile, the train cars are always suffocatingly full,” she continued.

For Alexander, there is no such choice and such thinking anyway, since men (of Ukrainian nationality) aged 18 to 60 are obliged to remain in the country.

Dnipro, despite not being attacked (at least until yesterday morning), had become a ghost town. Except for the queues at supermarkets and gas stations, you do not find anyone – after all, most stores are closed (who is in the mood for shopping other than the essentials?). People are locked in their homes and trying to keep abreast of developments on TV, radio and, of course, the Internet, which, however, worked smoothly (with only a few problems) and this is generally surprising because the residents were prepared that in the event of an attack the Russians would attempt to cut off telecommunications.

Despite Russia’s relentless pounding since Thursday morning, the two young people are taking courage from the way Ukrainian troops are resisting.

For President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, both seem to have respect, which has probably been cultivated by the attitude he has shown in the last 24 hours in the midst of the bombing.

“Zelenskyy showed how good he is,” said Vika, adding that Alexander added in fluent Greek (despite the fact that until then communication with him was done with the help of Vika, who translated) “we do not do politics. We only think about people’s lives.”

As for the causes of the war, they both agree that what Russian President Vladimir Putin said, that he wanted to protect Donetsk and Lugansk, is a lie.

“Nobody believed that. We do not know exactly what the real reason for the attack was, but it was a lie.”

Asked if they feel the West has abandoned them, they are both adamant: “Not at all. We see help coming from everywhere, from all countries, and we thank them for that.”

We closed with the hope that we will talk again soon and that the conditions will be much better for them.

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