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Ukrainian family find new life in Elgin after fleeing Putin's bombs

By Ewan Malcolm

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ANNA Trukhina's life was turned upside down when Russia invaded Ukraine.

From left, Anna, Volodymyr and Nikolas Trukhina have settled in Elgin well since fleeing their home in Kyiv. Picture: Becky Saunderson
From left, Anna, Volodymyr and Nikolas Trukhina have settled in Elgin well since fleeing their home in Kyiv. Picture: Becky Saunderson

The country's capital, Kyiv, had been home to Anna, her husband and her two sons Volodymyr (18) and Nikolas (8) for much of their lives.

But that changed when Russian troops started shelling the city of nearly three million people almost continuously.

A lot has changed since. Anna and her sons now reside in Elgin having been taken in by her niece Lana.

And, despite her husband having to stay behind in Ukraine to provide humanitarian aid, Anna is relieved to be in Moray.

"It feels like we're on vacation here," Anna said.

"Our home is a place of tall buildings but Moray is so different.

"It's full of nature so we're very happy here.

"The people are different as well. Everyone seems very happy and relaxed. They've been very welcoming.

"In a big city like back home everybody is very busy and they don't really have time but it is more relaxed here.

"We're really liking it and we plan to study, work and be happy."

The transition to life in Moray has been smoother than expected for the family.

Anna, who owned a beauty salon in Kyiv, has gone straight to work in her niece's salon in Elgin, while her sons have had no problems making new friends in the area.

"Their English isn't great but you know how it is with young people - they find a way," Anna added.

Nikolas has also continued his studies at Greenwards Primary School and is looking to join a local football team.

But the family's return to relative normality didn't seem so likely three months ago.

"We stayed for a few days after the invasion because we thought it would be sorted quickly," Anna said.

"We were sleeping near the strongest wall in our home every night so if a bomb hit our house we wouldn't be buried.

"But when my youngest said to me one night, "Mum I think we're going to die here and I haven't seen Paris yet," I knew we had to get out of there."

An anxiety ridden trip to the Polish border, which took 24 hours, followed as civilians flooded out of the city.

And, after reaching Poland, the family had to wait one month further before getting the required documentation to travel to Scotland.

"It was a really stressful wait," Anna said.

"But we eventually arrived in Scotland about six weeks ago.

"I just remember waking up in the morning after we had arrived and having this overwhelming feeling of being safe.

"It was just a great relief, especially for the children to have something like a home again.

"That is really important, for children to have a sense of home."

Shelling in Kyiv has caused widespread destruction and chaos.
Shelling in Kyiv has caused widespread destruction and chaos.

Anna still has family in Kyiv and unlike some other parts of the country, communication isn't an issue.

"The situation in Kyiv isn't that bad anymore so communication is still ok," Anna said.

"We just didn't expect this kind of military action.

"We thought it would take a different form or that it would be resolved by the powers because this has been going on for eight years really.

"We just hope that it ends as soon as possible because while me and my sons are safe here in Scotland, millions are not."

Anna and her sons are just three of 31 Ukrainians to arrive in Moray so far with more expected in the coming weeks.

Around 200 households in Moray have already offered to open their doors to Ukrainians fleeing the war.

The response to the crisis has been so overwhelming in the area that the newly-formed Moray Refugee Resettlement team say it will take some time to complete necessary safeguarding checks.

That support has been heart-warming to see for Anna and the family after witnessing the chaos of war in their homeland.

Anna said: "The war has shown so much ugliness and aggression so it is important to see kindness like this and to be kind to each other.

"It has been a nightmare and I still keep expecting to wake up at some point."

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