Portrait of the week: Elina, a young Ukrainian student from Donetsk “I have no more home”

Today, I grabbed a coffee with Elina, a young Ukrainian woman from Donetsk. She has long dark hair, wears lipstick-shaped earrings and she actually looks quite young until she starts speaking about her country. Here is her profile.

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  • Why did you move to France?

“It has always been my dream to live in Paris! I have been studying French since I was 16 and every summer I would come come back to practice French or visit some friends. I am currently doing my Master’s degree in Political Sciences at Assas University.”

  • What is the most difficult for you about the situation in your country?

“Well, I am from Donetsk in Ukraine and the situation is really complicated. I try not to  think about the war but you know, I just can’t avoid it.

I have no more home: we had to leave everything we had in Donetsk to stay alive.

Also I am particularly concerned about my grandparents. They are still in Donetsk but I can’t communicate with them anymore because Russia shut off both telephone and Internet networks… I don’t even know if they are still alive!”

  • Can you go back to your country?

“Unfortunately, I know my life will never be the same as before.

I can’t go back to Donetsk whenever I want because too many people are aware of my views in Ukraine and I know they will hold me as hostage at the first check point.”

  • Was this war predictable for you?

“Honestly, I didn’t expect such a war in my own country.

Everything starts with Russian propaganda: it is a cultural war.

From April you couldn’t walk in the street with EuroMaidan logo on your shirt without being mugged.

Once, I was in a taxi in Donetsk and I was speaking about the situation in the country with the driver. After I gave him my opinion, he stopped his car on the curb and left me there, saying I was a fascist!”

  • What do you think about the French coverage of the Ukraine crisis in the media?

“I worked for France 24 in Ukraine as a translator and I can tell you it is the same everywhere: some media present the news from a pro-Russia point of view and others from a pro-Ukrainian perspective. Journalists for France 24 often say “pro-Russia terrorists” whereas journalists for TF1 say “pro-Russia rebels”

  • Do you believe in the recent ceasefire?

“I don’t think we can find any peaceful agreement with Vladimir Putin. And many Ukrainians don’t believe in the European Union anymore. Personally, I don’t expect any shift in the European diplomatic strategy and I don’t consider Minsk 2 as a solution to the war.”

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