Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, has emerged from a 35-hour curfew: NPR

NPR’s Leila Fadel talks to Tanya Ustova about life in kyiv as Russia continues its bombardment of the city. The citywide curfew was imposed amid Russian attacks.



LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Ukrainian capital, kyiv, emerged from a 35-hour curfew. It was imposed on the whole city amid continuous Russian shelling, and that is why our team abruptly left Kyiv a few days ago. This morning I called our translator who worked with us briefly while we were there, Tanya Ustova, to get an idea of ​​what life is like.

TANYA USTOVA: We think more about Mariupol, for example, because what is happening there is a real disaster.

FADEL: Mariupol has suffered some of the worst attacks since the Russian invasion began three weeks ago. A theater that housed hundreds of people was bombed yesterday. The death toll remains uncertain. But before the attack, in an attempt to repel Russian forces, the Russian word for children was written in large white letters on the pavement outside. People in Mariupol live in constant fear, but Kyiv is also a target. Despite the danger, Ustova chooses to stay.

USTOVA: You feel you just need to stay. It is your house. That’s all. Because I remember a conversation with my friend the week before the war. He said he didn’t like certain things in Ukraine. You know how we–how people usually do. Maybe you don’t like something in your hometown either.

FADEL: Yeah.

USTOVA: Not all of us like something. And I was like, OK, but I want to have a choice when I go, you know?

FADEL: Yeah.

USTOVA: Of course, I don’t have children.

FADEL: Yeah.

USTOVA: For me it was just, I stay. This is my house, and you can’t run.

FADEL: Do you feel safe where you are now?

USTOVA: Yes, I feel safe because I am not alone here. My friends are with me. The people I love are with me, and that gives you a great feeling of psychological support.

FADEL: Yeah. When we met a few days ago, you told me that you had a very difficult night, emotionally, dealing with what is happening in your country.

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USTOVA: If I’m still alive, I’ll go see my favorite cafe and have a good cup of coffee.

FADEL: I just want to talk to you about what is happening in your country.

USTOVA: Yes, of course. (Laughs) It was just a funny voice. I would like to say that I really, really respect the people who work under these conditions. And there was a cafe I was talking about – a great cafe with great coffee. And the way he runs this cafe, he works, and you don’t pay for the cup of coffee; you pay directly to donate Ukrainian Armed Forces. And it’s great because people who aren’t there to join the army are trying to help Ukraine.

FADEL: But I want to talk about what you are going through personally. It’s your country, your city. I mean, it can’t be easy.

USTOVA: No, it’s not easy. I believe that personally I have this emotional process when you can’t really feel anything. So, you know, you just don’t have those emotions. You’re like, OK, there’s something wrong. And maybe it continues to make us human because you have this hope – OK, it won’t happen to me – just deep inside of you, because there is something terribly wrong , you know, wake up and check on your friends and check on the news, okay? This is no ordinary activity for the morning, is it?

FADEL: It’s true.

USTOVA: I believe that I will face huge and big emotions afterwards. You just can’t feel emotions because you can’t afford to right now if you’re in a safer place.

FADEL: Tanya Ustova is a journalist and filmmaker in kyiv. Thanks very much. I’m so sorry for everything you’re going through and for everything your country is going through.

USTOVA: Thank you, Leila.

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Christi C. Elwood