Before the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, thousands of natives of Central Asia, including Tajikistan, lived, worked and studied in Ukraine. In the last two years, some of them left the country, and some of them are still there. What keeps the people of Central Asia in Ukraine?
Sheikh’s grandfather from Tajikistan
Grandfather Shaykh (not his real name) went from Tajikistan to Ukraine and cooks pilaf for Kharkiv residents every day. “I’m not panicking – not everyone can bear it. There are five pots here. Imagine how hot it is. I’m also fasting. When we’re fasting, we don’t even drink water,” he said.
Despite the difficulties, Grandfather Sheikh considers it important to help the people of Ukraine: “People’s suffering, many children’s suffering. I have experienced all this. In the 1990s, we also had a war, there was a famine, we saw all this.”
This native of Tajikistan denied the allegations about the violation of the rights of Muslims in Ukraine. He said, “I have been in Ukraine since 1996. I have never heard anything like this. No one has condemned me for praying.”
In the ranks of the Armed Forces
Ravshanbek Durizmatov is 54 years old. He was born in Turkmenistan and grew up there. He knows Turkmen, Uzbek, Russian and Ukrainian languages. “I was 18 when I was drafted into the army. They brought it to Ukraine. During the service, I found the people here hospitable, friendly and tolerant,” he says.
Durimatov is a lawyer, but now he is in the ranks of the armed forces of Ukraine and is on the battlefield: “I remember the first day of the war very well. I was at home. I, my wife, children – we were all at home. We heard the sound of explosions and that’s when we realized that the war had started.”
The law gives Ravshanbek the right to take his three minor children and leave Ukraine, but he says he did not do it. “It is a shame to leave my children’s hometown. They were born here. This would be a betrayal of my children and wife,” he said.
Ravshanbek Durizhmatov says that it is easy for him to live in Ukraine with a “non-Slavic image”: “Since 2006, no one has asked me for a document. Before that, the police officials were investigating, they wanted documents. It’s not like that now.”
In addition, according to him, in Ukraine they have a tolerant attitude towards the followers of different religions: “We freely go to the mosque, we pray, we continue to live. No one will be employed.”
Maya Vergolyas was born in Dashauz, Turkmenistan. After graduating from school, he went to Yekaterinburg: “Once in Sverdlovsk (the old name of the city – NV) I saw my compatriots on a tram. We spoke to each other in Turkmen language. A woman shouted from behind, “I don’t understand your language, speak Russian.”
After graduating from university, Vergolyas went to Kyiv and started working and living in Ukraine in 1989. There he started a family and had a child. Doctor of biological sciences, professor of the department of human anatomy and physiology. It is now teaching people in Ukraine how to protect themselves in times of war.
He recalled the first day of Russia’s attack on Ukraine: “My husband and son were arguing about something. I couldn’t sleep either. In the morning, around five o’clock, my husband said that the war had started. I didn’t believe it was a war.”
Ruslan Makhanbetaliev lives in Kharkiv from Kazakhstan. His eldest son, Rashid, is at the front.
“Even though he was born in Kazakhstan, he supports Ukraine. He said, father, maybe I should go and fight to defend Ukraine. I understand that we are nomadic people. There is a war here, we go to another place. If there is a war, we will come here. The whole life will be like this? Who will protect?” – said this man.
According to his father, Rashid went to war as a private soldier, but during the war he received a medal for bravery and was promoted to the rank of junior sergeant. “I am proud of him and those who defend Ukraine,” he admitted.
Two sons of Mirodil Yunusov also went to war from Uzbekistan. He says that on the first day of the war, he woke up with fear. “We left, the children stayed. They left the next day to protect Ukraine,” he recalled.
Mirodil Yuunsov says that he himself wanted to go to the front, but they did not accept him because of his “old age”: “It was very difficult when my sons did not write letters and did not call. They are in Kremenna. Mines have been mined near there. The soldiers are taken away in armored vehicles. When they called, I was very happy,” says the man.
Yunusov sells food at the “Barabashovo” market in Kharkiv. It is the largest market in Eastern Europe. In March 2022, the Russian army shelled “Barabashovo” and the shops next to Myrodil’s workplace were set on fire. But he continues to cook pilaf: “I give food at a very low price. During the war, we have to support people.”
Those who agree
Brothers Rustam and Damir Darmenov are Kazakhs, but live in Kyiv. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they decided to voluntarily help the people and the military.
The first place the brothers went to for help was Gostomel. “There were a lot of policemen. There was a police station every five meters. The documents stood in front of the car mirror and we showed them every five meters,” Damir Darmenov said.
The brothers cooked pilaf in Gostomel and gave it to local residents. Then they toured the entire Kyiv region. The place that was occupied by the Russian forces at the beginning of the war.
Rustam, Damir’s brother, graduated from Kyiv State Medical University in the summer of 2022. At the beginning of 2023, he decided to rush to the aid of the Ukrainian military.
Damir is angry about the attack of the Russian army on Ukraine, which Moscow considers “the protection of the Russian-speaking population”. “We are in our land, they came to us, but they still call us fascists,” he says. Darmenov added that he always speaks Russian, but he has never heard any protests in Ukraine.
Parents with many children
In 2022, 206 thousand babies were born in Ukraine. In the first half of 2023 – about one hundred thousand. Because of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, women sometimes give birth under fire and sometimes in homes or warehouses.
Businessman Jamaliddin Kasimov from Kyrgyzstan has four children and lives with his family in Odessa. His youngest daughter was born in Ukraine during the Russian war: “When the war started, my wife was pregnant. We were worried about what would happen. They didn’t let her go to the hospital, the pain started at night.”
Jamaluddin has been selling beef and mutton for ten years. “It was good until the war, then it changed. In the first week, there was no business at all. Business slowed down.” He now confirms that the situation has improved. “There is little stability, thank God, it happens,” he says.
Another father of many, Kumarbek Raman, owns a chain of schools. He was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan. In 2018, he moved to Ukraine. He opened several private schools and kindergartens in this country. They also work during the war.
She has three children. His youngest daughter was born in Ukraine. He was named Miroslava so that there would be peace and security in the country.
Source : Радио Озоди