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Yula and Yuliya

Most people know me as Yula. That is a typical Russian abbreviation, my passport actually says Julia. Most people also know that I was born in Moscow.

Especially in the first weeks of the war in Ukraine, I received many concerned messages from friends and acquaintances. ‘How was I doing? Do I still have family in Russia or the Ukraine…?’ Like almost everyone else, I went through the different stages in dealing with this tragedy: shock and disbelief, action mode etc.

From the start I was interpreting for among others, Dutch National news (NOS) at the same time I was working on the radio documentary ‘Yula and Yuliya – how a distant war suddenly comes close’

In it I tell the story of my Ukrainian namesake, who fled to the Netherlands with her 4 children a few weeks before the invasion. Her husband stayed back in Kiev and her mother still in Crimea. While Yuliya is concerned about her family that has been left behind, I follow the news stream and speak to people close to me. Like my Russian friends who want to get out of Russia. Or my Romanian friend, whose family stocks up on iodine pills. Or my Ukrainian cleaning lady and grandmother of 6 children. And also my great-aunt, whose life is divided into three parts (Kharkov–Moscow-Zandvoort). As a child, she cleared rubble during the break from school after the Second World War. “I saw that war, Yula. And this one is exactly the same”

Yula en Yuliya was broadcasted by NTR Docs. Editing and mix by Jesse Koolhaas, commissioning editor NTR – Ottoline Rijks. There is an English translation of the documentary available here.

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