from student to activist, or how the life of this Ukrainian from Sciences Po Dijon changed in a few days

She is at the origin of the demonstration which took place this Monday, March 1 in Dijon, in support of Ukraine. Yelyzaveta Vinnik, 18, a student at Sciences Po, is in constant contact with her family there. She tells us about her daily life turned upside down by the arrival of Russian troops and her commitment to lay her stone in the building of resistance.

Her days, she spends scrutinizing the latest information from the Ukrainian front. “The news is not good, notes, anxious, Yelyzaveta Vinnik, Ukrainian student who joined Sciences Po Dijon in 2020, at the age of 16. There are always shellings in Kiev. I can’t even imagine how those who stayed feel.”

She comes from Odessa, a port city in southern Ukraine. Shis parents and grandparents still live in this strategic area, because of its proximity to the Black Sea and Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist enclave in Moldova.

There, residents take turns day and night in parking lots to make Molotov cocktails in order to be able to defend themselves against the Russians who threaten to invade them at any time.

This Monday, March 1, the Ukrainian presidency stated in a press release that the Russian forces had regrouped, accumulating armored vehicles, missiles
and artillery to surround and capture Kiev, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol especially Odessa.

So inevitably, Yelyzaveta Vinnik can only be worried. It has only been 6 days since the Russian offensive was launched. Six days that seem like an eternity to him: “I’m so worried about them that I can’t concentrate on anything else. Sometimes I feel like I’m there, in Ukraine, given the number of images and videos I’m looking at.”

She talks constantly with her family by telephone, in Ukrainian with her parents and in Russian with her grandparents who grew up in the USSR. “Today they stayed at home, she tells us, because there was no warning from the local government, but they had to spend 4 nights in the shelter just before”.

Behind her computer keyboard, in her student room in Dijon, she is dressed in a traditional Ukrainian sweater, black, as a sign of mourning. And among the many feelings that have upset her for a few days, it is that of guilt that takes the most place. The guilt of being far from his country, far from his own: “Everyone is so committed there… I feel really bad. It would be better to be with my family, to help the military“. His father, unfit for service, organizes the food of the resistant soldiers.

For lack of anything better, it tries to coordinate energies and humanitarian aid in Dijon. “Even in France, we can help, she assures us. We must try, either through financial donations, or through humanitarian aid, or offering a welcome for Ukrainian families, it is the unity of the European people”.

From a student of only 18, she became, in a few days, an activist for the Ukrainian cause.

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