A Ukrainian tour guide said she filmed a livestream called “War in My Ukraine” when Russia invaded.
Olga Dudakova told Insider over 1,000 people tuned in live to watch her talk about the war.
People commented on her livestream, saying “calm her down, let her calm down,” she said.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Olga Dudakova, a tour guide, made a living showing off Kyiv’s hidden gems through an online livestreaming website Heygo.
She liked to visit ancient churches and hike to get good views of the city.
She had an evening tour scheduled on February 24 — the day that Russia began its attack on Ukraine — but quickly cancelled it after hearing the news, Dudakova told Insider in an interview.
Instead, Dudakova decided to film a different livestream called “War in My Ukraine.” It provided a first-hand account of what was happening in Ukraine’s capital on the evening of the invasion. More than 1,000 people tuned in, she told Insider.
“It was a decision I made in shock because I was shocked and terrified with what was happening around me,” she said. The livestream lasted around an hour.
Russian fighters encircling Kyiv have largely stalled, but have still been attacking parts of the city, The Guardian reported. One citizen was killed after a missile attack on a residential building early Thursday morning, the outlet said.
Russia has already caused destruction in other parts of Ukraine, including bombing a theater in the besieged city of Mariupol where civilians were sheltering. Russia has so far denied the attack.
Dudakova is one of the thousands who have fled the country’s capital. She left three days after the invasion.
Dudakova said she did the livestream because she wanted to show her huge audience around the world what was happening.
“They just see the news, the statistics… But what I wanted to tell the audience is that we are people, we are here in Ukraine, and this is the disaster which is happening,” she said.
When she was speaking, Dudakova said she was crying out of fear
People were commenting on her livestream, saying “calm her down, let her calm down,” she said.
More than 1,000 people tuned in to watch Dudakova talk in real-time about what was happening in Ukraine. Some viewers were offering their homes for her and her family to stay at, she said.
Dudakova said she spent two nights in a bomb shelter with her three children before she left Kyiv
“We decided to leave because one building which is situated near my kids school was affected badly,” Dudakova said.
The line of cars trying to get out of the city was up to five hours long, she said, adding that, with people carrying weapons and a military presence, the city felt like a war zone.
“I saw people pushing cars, just pushing with their own hands because they didn’t have petrol,” she said.
Dudakova stayed at her grandmother’s house in western Ukraine — where she filmed a second hour-long livestream — for around five days, before fleeing the country. She said she spoke again to the people who had tuned in and gave them a tour of a mansion in the area.
Dudakova said that “food disappeared from the stores” while she was staying in western Ukraine.
Sometimes the internet connection in Kyiv dropped because of bombings, she said, making it hard for her to schedule the livestreams.
Dudakova also said that she normally schedules them seven to 10 days in advance, but since the invasion she schedules them only two to four hours beforehand because of connectivity issues.
She told Insider that she was still in touch with friends and relatives in Kyiv.
“I still have hopes that this will be over very soon and I will come back and I will continue doing my regular tours,” she added.
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