Sisters forced to leave Ukraine… 28 years after they fled Georgia

History repeating itself: Sisters tell of misery as they are forced to leave Ukrainian home… 28 years after they fled Georgia in fear of Russia-backed troops

  • Angela Dzahnoian is fleeing Russian invasion for the second time in her life
  • She and her sisters Diana and Liana fled Russian-backed separatists in Georgia
  • Their 1994 escape led them to Ukraine – where they now face Putin again 

For the second time in her life, Angela Dzahnoian has been forced to flee the horrors of war.

The lawyer, 35, originally from Sukhumi in Georgia, still remembers at the age of six hearing 20 masked Russian-backed separatists ransack their house in 1994.

They jumped over a fence and stormed in, startling their parents and grandparents. ‘They stole our food, our jewellery, even the carpets,’ Angela recalled. ‘They beat up my parents and grandparents.’

She and her sisters, Diana and Liana, now 30 and 33, were getting ready for bed on that night.

The lawyer, 35, originally from Sukhumi in Georgia, still remembers at the age of six hearing 20 masked Russian-backed separatists ransack their house in 1994

The incident haunts them and their mother Marina, 54, to this day. The next day, the family, which has Armenian roots, put their possessions into a car and drove to Ukraine.

Three decades later, the family saw history repeat itself as Angela and her daughter Amelie, seven, escaped from the Ukrainian town of Chaplynka, which has been under Russian occupation for much of the past seven weeks. She met her sister Diana at a drop-in centre for displaced Ukrainians in the southern city of Odessa which is safe for now.

‘Whenever we would go to buy food, the Russian soldiers would just steal it at checkpoints,’ she said. ‘At the start, local farmers would help by giving out produce. But their resources are exhausted. It is very hard to buy bread. The Russians do not allow aid to go inside.’

The single mother said she barely left her house because she was too scared of being shot.

She got out of Chaplynka on Saturday, with her sister Zhanna, 22, and her 10-month-old son Artem. ‘It was frightening with all the shelling,’ she said.

Twelve hours later, the four sisters ate together at Diana’s flat in Odessa. All of them are now naturalised Ukrainians and proud of their ‘homeland’.

Angela said: ‘We do not want to be Russian. We do not want to live under their flag. If we leave Ukraine, we will do it as a family.’

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