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“I heard those horrible noises, crashes, screams, and when people started running, I joined them” – An interview with Kristina and Stas from Kharkiv [Ukraine]

Activists of the Cars of Hope (COH) collective talked several times with two street musicians in Lviv, Ukraine. They had met them on the streets of Lviv and became friends. They laughed, drank and talked a lot together. There were also a few tears. An interview.

After the Cars of Hope activists left Lviv, Stas suffered a minor stroke. Stas and Kristina need support for medical treatment. You can find out how to support Stas below the interview.

COH: Hi folks, how are you doing?

Kristina and Stas: Hi, fine, thank you.

COH: May you introduce yourself?

Kristina and Stas: We are Kristina and Stas from Kharkov (Kharkov is the russian name of Kharkiv. Like many other people in the east of the Ukaraine Kristina and Stas speak Russian, Enough 14).

Kristina and Stas

COH: How long have you been here in Lviv and how has it been for you since Russian invasion started?

Kristina and Stas: We’re here about a month, we decided to leave our because most of our city was destroyed. At first our thoughts were “The victory is not far off,  a few more days and this senseless war will be over.” But we were wrong and each day it was more and more scary.

COH: You said you are from Kharkiv. We can see that the situation there is really bad. What was the point that you decided to leave home?

Stas: After the war started we lived under a constant shelling about a month. We were not going to leave cause we thought it would end soon. But things happened in the Nova Bavaria residential area and it changed everything. I wanted to cross the street and suddenly a car cut me off and I had to stop and wait before I could go. And the next moment I saw two shells hit an apartment building and the blast wave blew up another one.  

I heard those horrible noises, crashes, screams, and when people started running, I joined them. A severed leg fell right in front of me and there were a lot of dead bodies around. 

The damage after artillery shelling in Kharkiv in March 2022. Video by Stas.

I came home and I told Kristina what has happened there. Both Kristina and I couldn’t sleep the following days. Those days Russian fighter jets flew over the city and it was really scary. The shells landed at a market place not far away from our home and many buildings were destroyed due to heavy bombardment. We decided to leave.  We’ve found a car, took our two cats and our belongings and left our home city.

COH: How has your life been going since then? 

Stas: After a four day trip by car we arrived in Lviv. It was hard to find a place to live with our two cats here cause a large number of people came here because of the war. But with the help of our friends we did it! Kristina started to play guitar and our life has become like we used to live before the Russian invasion. We’re restarted our life here. Lviv is a great city and we like it. This is a very beautiful city. People here love music and arts. We have met a lot of great people here.

COH: What are the biggest problems, that you have here in Lviv?

Kristina: The biggest are the problem here are the locals. Part of them are really friendly and helping but there’s a part of them who really hate strangers, especially people from east Ukraine.  They had that attitude a long time before the war started. Many people from west Ukraine are really different, they have strong traditions, they are very religious, west Ukraine is mostly small cities and villages,  people used to know each other, they know everything about their neighbours, who are the people who live next door and they are very suspicious and hostile to strangers. People of east Ukraine are mostly from big cities,  and we don’t care who lives next door and where they are from, we don’t go to church every Sunday, we are not suspicious to strangers.  A big part of people of east Ukraine speak Russian, people of west Ukraine speak Ukrainian. And many people of west Ukraine blame us for this war. They really think that if we spoke Ukrainian the war would not have started.  It’s bullshit! But they like to think this way.  Such people like to make internal migrants life uncomfortable. They put housing prices three times higher, they call police “to check suspicious neighbours”  and so on. There’s a lot of such people here and it’s sad. 

COH: What do you do to make your living here? Just by playing music on the streets or do you have any other options?

Stas: Yes now playing music on the streets is the only way to make our living here. It’s hard to find a good job here if you’re a migrant. I used to be a waiter and I can’t find a job now. Kristina used to play music on streets. Its her way of life and she is doing itto make a living. 

Kristina continues to play guitar, while the city sound system warns for another air raid. Lviv, May 2022.

COH: Have you already made any plans for the future? Will you stay in Lviv, are you about to go somewhere else or are you heading back to Kharkiv as soon as it’s somehow possible?

Kristina: We have no plans for the wartime. Life is uncertain and death is always near as Jim Morrison said. Kharkov is destroyed and there’s nothing to do there. We won’t go back. When Kyiv revives completely after the war  we will go there or we will go to Europe.

COH: We would like to thank you for taking the time! Is there anything else you want to say to our readers and us?

Kristina: We are so grateful to our German friends for helping people of Ukraine. Your support is very important for us. We want peace! 

Help Ukrainians to stop this war!

After the Cars of Hope activists left Lviv, Stas suffered a minor stroke. Stas and Kristina need support for medical treatment. You can support them with a donation:

Bank account details

Name of the bank: Volksbank im Bergischen Land

Account holder: Hopetal e.V.

Description: Stas

IBAN: DE51 3406 0094 0002 9450 87

BIC: VBRSDE33XXX

In July, activists from Cars of Hope will transport medicines, bandages, food and other items to Kyiv. Without your support our work would not be possible. If you want to donate, use the same bank account (above), but change the description of the donation into “Cars of Hope”.

1 thought on ““I heard those horrible noises, crashes, screams, and when people started running, I joined them” – An interview with Kristina and Stas from Kharkiv [Ukraine]

  1. […] in which they lived was reduced to rubble. We had thought about some questions together and then we did an interview with them in Lviv. We had a nice evening together. Kristina played something on a piano that was standing in a nearby […]

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