Local Ukrainian Woman Reacts to Violence In Her Homeland - abc27 WHTM

Local Ukrainian Woman Reacts to Violence In Her Homeland


Blacksburg, VA - Protests continued in Kiev in the Ukraine Thursday. According to a doctor, at least 70 people have been killed as government forces fired on demonstrators.

The Ukrainian government says 67 police troops have been captured by protesters. This comes after both sides agreed to a truce Wednesday.

More than a quarter-million people, who identify as Ukrainian, live in the U.S. As has been seen over and over with social media, those living thousands of miles away are able to follow what is happening to their loved ones back in their homeland.

Olga Bruyaka is a professor at Virginia Tech and she says her parents are starting to feel the signs of a potential war looming.

The violence is taking place just a few blocks from where her parents live.

Thousands of miles away from Kiev and tucked away in an office on Virginia Tech's campus, Bruyaka scans everything she can get her eyes on, looking for new news from the violence engulfing the neighborhood she used to call home.

"Especially this morning it started escalating so I called my parents and they told me they could hear explosions... they could hear people shooting," Bruyaka said.

Bruyaka says the mainstream media there is controlled by one side or the other, leaving Facebook and other social networking the best source for news including frontline pictures of contested areas and the news that one of her friends had been grazed by a bullet.

"I think at first he wasn't thrilled seeing people protesting," Bruyaka said.

Her friend symbolizes how Bruyaka interprets the events at home: What was once a demonstration against the rejection of the EU has turned into something much more dynamic.

"Through posts on Facebook I realized that he became very involved because and I think it is partly because of what he saw: His friends beaten and what was going on so he is very active now. Yeah... he is in the hospital," Bruyaka continued.

The result, she says, is the onset of a hoarding mentality that could be the beginning of wider problems, if outlying, pro-western Ukrainians decide to march to Kiev and join the fight.

One thing's for sure: she and her family have no plans to return, regardless of the outcome.

"Looking at what's going on Ukraine and even my parents still living in Ukraine... they do not want us to go back," Bruyaka said.

Dr. Bruyaka said it was important for her to agree to do this story as a way to shed light on what is going on in that country in the hopes that world pressure will help bring about a peaceful end to this crisis.

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