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.’
Here’s how YOU can help: Donate here to the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal
Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.
Calling upon that human spirit, we are supporting a huge push to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.
For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from the bombs and guns.
As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of this conflict will require accommodation, schools and medical support.
Donations to the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal will be used to help charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.
In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.
TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE
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To add Gift Aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine
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