Student’s family caught up in violence in Ukraine

Oxford Mail: Olena Seminog Olena Seminog

AN Oxford student from Ukraine has told of her horror after her family were attacked in protests in her homeland.

Olena Seminog, 30, said her father Oleksandr and younger brother Yuri were beaten with metal batons and wooden sticks on Tuesday evening.

They suffered flesh wounds and severe bruising but Oxford University PhD student Mrs Seminog, who came to Oxford in 2010, is just pleased they were not killed.

She said: “It’s absolutely horrifying. My family won’t give me all the details because they don’t want me to worry about it. I don’t think they are telling me about how badly they were attacked.

“I was just glad that they are alive because so many people were shot or stabbed. When they told me it was just bad bruises, I think I was actually a little relieved that it wasn’t the worst news.

“When it happened I said to them ‘I’m getting a flight to Ukraine’ but they told me they didn’t want me to go there. They would be worried about my safety.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Olena with her brother Yuri

Protests have taken place since November, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Two weeks ago, Mrs Seminog’s brother narrowly avoided being killed when a grenade exploded next to him. She said he escaped unharmed because he was wearing protective skiing clothing. Violence erupted on Tuesday as government supporters clashed with the opposition and there were reports of several deaths in Kiev yesterday.

At least 26 people have been killed and more than 200 injured amid reports of sniper attacks.

Mrs Seminog’s father and brother had travelled from their home in Boyarka, a small town to the south of Kiev, to the capital to take part in the protests in Independence Square. They arrived at about 11pm and parked on the city’s outskirts.

As they walked to join the protestors, they were attacked by a group of government supporters who were preventing demonstrators from reaching the crowds.

Oxford Mail:

  • Anti-government protesters crowding the Independence Square in Kiev

Mrs Seminog’s mother Alla, 54, is a paediatrician, so she was able to provide medical assistance back home.

St Cross College PhD student Mrs Seminog, who is married to Oxford University graduate Alexander, 30, said: “It was horrible news but I know a lot of people don’t come back from Independence Square.”

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