Everyone has their own story

The story won in the Contest of short video stories "People and War" - the second place among the citizen journalists’ videos. Author Khrystyna Mosin (Chernivtsi).

Kozlovskyi Oleh, town Makiivka, internally displaced person in Chernivtsi region.

Kozlovskyi Oleh Valeriiovych, I am an internally displaced person (IDP) from Donetsk region. My family and I have moved to Chernivtsi in July 2014, and since then have been residing specifically in Chernivtsi.

Why did you choose Chernivtsi in particular?

Why did we move here? By the way, prior to war we have never been in this region, in this city, we had no relatives here, there were no friends or anybody we’d known. But it happened so that we were looking for a place, for a higher education institution for our son to transfer to, because he had been studying in the Donetsk State University and now studies in Chernivtsi. And it happened so that we were provided with the contacts of people working at the local university, we called, they invited us and, even more than that, said “Please, come.”.

How did your family’s life change?

We have been residing here ever since. My wife got a job in the local gymnasium, she teaches French language and she has her own class. Our son, as I already said, studies full time a t the university. I am self-employed, I travel around Ukraine conducting different informal education events, seminars, trainings.

Do you feel comfortable in Chernivtsi?

I can speak for myself, for my family, for the people I know - psychologically, they have been feeling as a part of the the community for a while now. Certainly, we are being discriminated against sometimes, at the very least we do not have voting rights in the local elections etc. But psychologically we feel the Chernivtsi people to be ours, and I often hear such a feedback from them: “For some time now, you have been not just temporary guests but local people”, - despite the fact that we don have a local permanent registration.

What type of aid have you received?

From day one, even before we moved, we called and people from the university started helping us already by phone, they invited us and assisted in the process of relocation. And there have been many instances when total strangers, morally or physically, would help  us to settle in in one way or another.

Did you receive any aid from the state?

Obviously, there was less such aid from the state. But we are rather self-sufficient  people, and we understood that there is an ongoing war, the country requires much effort due to the war in the East, and that is why we did not rely on it.

How difficult is it to decide to relocate?

I know a lot of people who, unfortunately, for one reason or another, were forced to stay there and do not have an opportunity to move to the Ukraine controlled territory. But they still try to survive there, because there is a terrible atmosphere, the atmosphere of 1937. And, obviously, there a person cannot feel free, especially not someone who is used to value opinion of his/her own,  as well as those of others. And that is why threats started coming even back then, it was one of the reasons for our relocation.

What is your opinion about the current situation?

Afterwards, I would take an open, public pro-Ukranian position and, moreover, have been working as an adviser to the Minister of Social Policy for some time. So unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, personally for me there is absolutely no way back there while the strangers are there.

Are you ready to return there with your family?

If the prognosis is that all of this will be over and Ukraine and Ukrainian jurisdiction will return there, I will certainly go there, will visit, but it is difficult to say at this point whether I will go there temporarily or for good. We feel here rather at ease, because this is also our land, just like any other region of Ukraine, including the Crimea.

At some point, back in the early days when we moved, one of the teachers at the university told me that we are actually not refugees because it is the same Ukraine here as it is out there, and we have an opportunity to live where we believe it to be best. 

In Chernivtsi region, there are about 3 thousand registered internally displaced persons. The majority of appeals is to resolve the issues of the IDP status, social benefits and payments.

Author – Mosin Khrystyna

I would like to thank Kozlovskyi O.V. for the interview.

Data is provided in accordance with the report on the work of advisers on the issue of IDPs  of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.