Olha Oltarzhevsk
Olha Oltarzhevsk

Ukrainian student shows life inside Kyiv basement

22-year-old Olha Oltarzhevska shares footage of families living in basement to hide from bombings

Olha Oltarzhevska, a 22-year-old Ukrainian university student, has shared footage from inside a Kyiv basement where she, her family and several neighbours have taken refuge from Russian bombings.

Describing the situation as “the gates of insanity on the edge of humanity,” the young woman explains that she was living a “happy life” before the Russian invasion of her country.

“I lived without knowing grief, studied at the best university in the country (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv), played musical instruments, and started taking Spanish courses,” said Oltarshevska, adding that she had worked for the past four years as a public relations specialist working with the media.

“Previously, I communicated with local media, but now, due to circumstances, I switched to international ones,” she said, adding that Russians have been “mercilessly bombing our city for two weeks.”

Olha Oltarzhevsk
In her family’s basement

“We will not run away”

“My family and I have been living in the basement for more than a week now. Explosions are heard every day,” she said.

However, Oltarzhevska says she and her family will not run away.

“Firstly, it is very risky, and secondly, our neighbours brought their children and a large number of pets to us. Therefore, we must take care of them. We are the only ones who have a basement in the house,” she said.

“The Russian military wanted to blow up a nuclear power plant in our country, they are aiming at hospitals, kindergartens and even dropped a bomb on (…) cemeteries. The worst thing is that now Russia is waging war not only on the battlefield, but also on the information front,” said Oltarzhevska.

While she points out that Ukraine has “received support from 128 states that say that Russia started a war, all the inhabitants of Russia assume that Putin is saving us from someone”.

Olha Oltarzhevsk
Olha Oltarzhevsk now lives in the basement with her family, their neighbours, and pets

Russian propaganda

“At university, I studied journalistic standards. And I know that the author cannot insert personal opinion into the text. But Russians use the media as a propaganda tool and nothing more,” the 22-year-old lamented.

In her email to press rooms around the world, the young woman also attached a video showing what every-day life is like inside the makeshift bunker her father has created in their basement.

“It seems like we’ve lived here not for six days, but many years,” Oltarzhevska said, showing the mattresses that are spread along the basement floor where she, her family and their neighbours and their pets sleep.

Olha’s dream

A happy Olha Oltarzhevsk before the war
A happy Olha Oltarzhevsk before the war

While she said their conditions are still “good” compared to others who “are not even able to lie down”, she also said the lack of water and dangerous conditions have left her unable to shower for a week.

“One month ago, I had just one big dream, which was to see the northern lights. But now I understand that everything is changing, and today all I want is to survive and win this information and physical war,” the young woman added.

“So, I hope that this nightmare will come to an end as soon as possible.”

 Review of my bomb shelter:


 Ukrainian anthem (my cover):