Greg Tarnavskyi and Vlad Krylov will speak at an upcoming rally to support Ukraine. The public is invited to show their support on Saturday, April 16, at 1 p.m. on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy). “We continue to spread awareness about the war and the atrocities Putin’s regime is bringing on Ukraine,” Tarnavskyi says.
University of Delaware roommates Greg Tarnavskyi and Vlad Krylov have been friends since Greg’s freshmen year. Now living together, they watched in horror—as did much of the world—as Russia invaded Ukraine.
Krylov, a senior economics student, hails from Moscow. “I am now even more motivated to find a secure income here in the United States because I cannot go back to Russia. And if I stay, I could hope to bring my family over,” he says.
In Russia, people who publicly support Ukraine could face prison time, says Krylov. On March 8, CNBC reported that Russian police have arrested thousands of citizens who were participating in antiwar protests. It is unclear how long the protesters will be detained.
On March 4, Russia criminalized sharing news and information that contradicts Russian state media, including using terms like “war” and “invasion” when referring to the conflict in Ukraine. The penalty is up to 15 years in prison. Media entities in Russia have reported removing words like “war” from their sites and replacing it with phrases like “special operation.” Other media sites, including the Echo of Moscow radio station, have shut down, according to a report by NPR.
Krylov was surprised that communications to Moscow had not been halted nearly a week into the conflict, and he was able to get in touch with his parents and brothers regularly. His girlfriend, who is Estonian, was living in Moscow when the war started, but he hopes she can leave the country. Because she has a European passport, he believes she might try to fly out of Russia to come to the United States, but he says it is hard to know what will be possible.
“Things are really up in the air, but many people cannot leave Russia because they do not have the proper paperwork,” Krylov notes.
His roommate, UD junior Tarnavskyi, is a political science major. He hopes to go to law school one day, but says, “With everything happening right now, we will see how it unfolds. I cannot predict what happens.”
He is also happy to be able to call family regularly in Ukraine. His father stayed with his grandparents, older brother and sister in Ukraine, while his mother and younger sister fled to Bulgaria. As of February 15, Ukrainian men ages 18 to 60 were no longer permitted to leave the country. Tarnavskyi says his father never would have left his parents behind anyway.
“When I talk to [my family], we talk about what we hear on the news, the strategy of the two countries and how it is unfolding there,” Tarnavskyi says. “My dad was at a gas station getting fuel and he heard the missiles overhead. That is how he knew it was happening.”
Tarnavskyi says he was watching the news when Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced he would invade.
“Greg stormed into my room and says, ‘The war has started,’” Krylov recalls. “I will say my life sort of split at that moment.”
“I called everyone in Ukraine and woke everyone up. It was 5 a.m. there, but I woke them all up to tell them. I never thought I would be calling someone to tell them a war has started,” Tarnavskyi says.
At this point, about two weeks into the war, both students say they are hopeful it will not last long and that Russia will withdraw from Ukraine.
“I have never been prouder of my country,” Tarnavskyi says. “We want Russia to give our land back and let us build our own country.”
He continues, “I am grateful to see how the American people are supporting Ukraine and how they are helping. There is more that can be done.”
Krylov says he wants to spread awareness of the war and what it’s like living in Russia for everyday people.
“People in Russia, many do not support this war. We have family and friends in Ukraine. We did not want this,” he says. “Putin has been in power all of my life. I do not know how, but I hope [the war] will end soon.”
The students hope Americans will support efforts to aid Ukraine and offered the following suggestions as ways to help:
Related: This Delaware Resident Sends Hope to the Helpless in Ukraine