site.btaBulgarians in Ukraine: We Hope the Ukrainian Army Wins and Peace Is Established

Bulgarians in Ukraine: We Hope the Ukrainian Army Wins and Peace Is Established
Bulgarians in Ukraine: We Hope the Ukrainian Army Wins and Peace Is Established
Spaso-Preobrazhenskiy Cathedral in Odesa, July 23, 2023 (BTA Photo)

To mark the two-year anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine, BTA spoke to members of the Bulgarian community living in the Ukrainian cities of Bolhrad, Odesa and Zaporizhzhia. A common hope they all share is for peace to be established soon.

Katya Georgieva, a 7th grade student in Odesa said: "Before the war, education was attendance-based. We have been learning online for two years now. We don't see our classmates, we communicate less. This is bad. When there are sirens and disturbances, learning gets interrupted. I feel fear, when I hear loud explosions." Katya shared that she feels calmer, when she is with her parents. "The important thing is to move forward, not to be stagnant," she said and added that peace is what matters the most.

Galina Ivanova, head of the Bolhrad Bulgarian Centre, said, "The war changed us. I can say that people in the city of Bolhrad became more friendly and united. The calamity brought us closer together, no matter the people's position and social status." Ivanova said that people are hopeful that peace will come soon.

Valentina Kashi, who teaches Bulgarian language at the Vasil Aprilov Sunday School in Odesa, said: "We have lived through two difficult years. We live in constant tension, we are afraid and uncertain about what the future holds. Of course, it would be easier to go to another country, however, what could we do there? What jobs could we find?" Kashi is adamant that one should not just sit idly and wait. "We must continue to work. Of course, we believe that we will win. The truth is on our side. We place our hope in the Ukrainian army."

Another Odesa resident, Marina Malenkova, also spoke about the hardships she and her acquaintances experience. Malenkova, who manages a kindergarten, said that many of her co-workers are forced into reduced working hours and are paid lower salaries accordingly. "In the first year of the war, people received humanitarian aid in the form of food, which was a help to their families. This [aid] has been suspended now. The constant attacks, sirens, explosions, unemployment - all this led many to suffer from depression," Malenkova said.

Vasil Mitkov, who lives in Zaporizhzhia, some 50 kilometres from the front line, shared that living in his city has been challenging with sirens going off day and night. Mitkov spoke about his business, saying: "We used to have 25 people working in our printing house. Five of them were conscripted. Our production capacity dropped accordingly, the number of orders also decreased."

The Bulgarian community in Ukraine numbered 204,000 people, according to the official 2001 census. They mostly lived in the provinces of Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Kirovohrad. The Bulgarian community in Zaporizhzhia is comprised of some 30,000, many of whom lived in occupied territories today.

/NZ/

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By 10:21 on 25.04.2024 Today`s news

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