The Swiss-Ukrainian who is staying put in Kyiv

Inna Lysenko and her cat inside her Kyiv apartment. zVg

She sleeps in the corridor and the windows of her apartment are taped up. Inna Lysenko has a Swiss passport. She is staying in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, for very personal reasons.

This content was published on March 6, 2022 minutes

“I had every opportunity to leave,” says Inna Lysenko, five days after the Russian army invaded Ukraine. But she is staying in central Kyiv with her partner. She has no plans to flee to Switzerland, where her ex-husband and 25-year-old son live.

The Swiss-Ukrainian runs several online shops.

The Swiss-Ukrainian dual citizen is in close contact with her Swiss family; they send each other the latest headlines every hour. She herself sticks only to the official channels, so as not to “put too much strain on my nervous system”. Her son is also suffering because of the situation. He is a student at the University of St Gallen. Now he can hardly concentrate on his studies.

Inna Lysenko is an ethnic Russian who was born in Kyiv, where she now runs an online clothes shop. Over the phone, she says that her son is afraid, but that she herself is calm at the moment.

Ready to flee the apartment at any time

Inna Lysenko has not spoken to her parents, who live in Russia, for nearly ten years. Their attitudes towards Vladimir Putin are too different. “Perhaps my perseverance is also an act of defiance,” she says.

The windows of her apartment are protected with tape and a rope is ready in case she needs to escape in an emergency. zVG

Inna Lysenko has been hearing the sirens for days from her apartment. They are followed by detonations. “Today was pretty quiet,” she says. She was able to catch a few hours’ uninterrupted sleep again. She sleeps fully clothed. Her rucksack is packed and ready by the door, so that she can flee at a moment’s notice.

Next to Inna Lysenko lies her cat. Because she is black, her owner puts a luminous collar on her every evening. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to find her in an emergency.”

The mattresses have been in the apartment corridor since last Thursday. This is the safest place to be if “missiles shatter the windows”. The window-panes are covered with adhesive tape and the balcony door is protected with a mattress. She has attached a rope near the window.

She may have to escape from the second floor of the apartment block. It is a carefully thought-out plan. “We also considered hiding in the basement,” but it was too cold there and unsuitable for sleeping in.

‘My own responsibility’

“At the moment, I think it is more dangerous outside Kyiv than in the city centre,” she says. She believes that her apartment directly on the Dnieper River is relatively safe. She has not left it in two weeks. They have enough supplies left over from the pandemic.

The Swiss embassy knows that Inna Lysenko is still in the city and has been in contact with her in the last days. The conversation focused on her Swiss passport, which is about to expire. The question of her leaving the country did not arise. “If I am staying here, it is my own responsibility,” she says.

Ukraine solidarity

Swiss Solidarity has launched a fundraising campaign to help cope with an expected humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Donations can be paid via postal account 10-15000-6, adding the words “Crisis in Ukraine”.In a first phase, the money will be used to help refugees in countries neighbouring Ukraine, notably in Poland. Swiss Solidarity works with charities and aid organisations, including Caritas, HEKS/EPER, the Swiss Red Cross, Helvetas, Medair, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Terre des hommes foundation.If possible and if necessary, aid projects will also be supported in Ukraine.The money goes exclusively towards humanitarian aid.Swiss SolidarityExternal link is an independent foundation. It was born from a programme by the French-language public radio and is now the humanitarian arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of SWI

End of insertion
External Content

Articles in this story

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Join the conversation!

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?