People story


Story 19: Anastasiia and Veronika

Two sisters 15 y.o. Anastasia and 13 y.o. Veronika lived with her mother in Luhansk region. Their city was occupied by Russian forces in the first days of the full-scale war, and evacuation routes to the territory of Ukraine were blocked. To save the girls from Russian soldiers and possible shelling of the city, the mother decided to evacuate through Russia.

They headed to the city of Ryazan in the western part of Russia because they had distant relatives there. When they got there, Anastasiia and Veronika didn’t want to stay there for long, but the family didn’t have enough money to go to the border and get away from Russia. They had to stay in Ryazan for a while. 15 y.o. Anastasia even entered a college in September and 13 y.o. Veronika went to school. Daily, they encountered bullying for being Ukrainians. Veronika said that everyone was mean to her because of her ethnicity.

Their mother died on December 17th after a heartbreak. Anastasiia and Veronika were taken to an orphanage on the same day by Russian authorities. They were staying there, alone in an unknown country, subjected to constant verbal harassment. 

In Ukraine, the girls had a sister named Kateryna who lived in Volyn oblast. She was informed of the mother’s death and the fate of the girls. After a day of mourning, Kateryna called hotlines and eventually reached out to the Minister of Reintegration, Iryna Vereshchuk. The minister provided funds for the trip to Russia and back to return Anastasiia and Veronika. Kateryna spent four days on the road and took her younger sisters with her from the orphanage in Ryazan. She took them back to Ukraine with her. Now, after the horrors of forcible stay in Russia, they live together in a village in Volyn.


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