A UKRAINIAN woman living in Mabe is concerned for her family as the crisis in the country deepens.
Yana Spencer-Sokirzhinskaya, originally from Odessa in the south of Ukraine, works as a human rights activist delivering courses around the world.
Before moving to Cornwall seven years ago she worked as a journalist and reported on the Orange Revolution – a series of protests in Ukraine following the 2004 presidential election, which was marred by allegations of corruption.
“I have to get home just to see what is going on,” she said. “I have to go to see my family. The Orange Revolution was such a terrible event. I am concerned for them because if Russia come to power it will be really difficult for people who think differently.”
Russian forces moved into Crimea in an attempt to take over the region this week.
Mrs Spencer-Sokirzhinskaya’s family lives less than 200 miles from Crimea.
“People in Russia have less human rights than in Ukraine,” she said. “People are not allowed to say what they think. Odessa could be next.
“They (Russians) might not abuse people who do not want to be with them but they might just take over. It’s very upsetting seeing this happen to my country.
“The people of Ukraine are trying to find their way to true freedom and democracy.
“Nobody should be discriminated against based on who they are, what language they speak, or anything else. I hope that people in Ukraine can work together to build a brighter future for all.”
As the crisis develops, she is calling on Cornish people who are concerned to ask their MP for support.
“The support of the people of Cornwall and the UK is really important at this time. I know that everyone over there really appreciates it.
“I would ask all those concerned to contact their MP to ask what is being done to help the situation.”
As well as working as a project manager for mental health charity Carrick Mind, Mrs Spencer-Sokirzhinskaya runs a social enterprise which delivers women empowerment courses and therapy projects funded through the sale of cakes.
“Odessa is a very cosmopolitan and multicultural city, with over 100 nationalities living happily together,” she said.
“When I came to Cornwall I brought this ethos of tolerance to my work as a human rights activist helping minorities in Cornwall – helping to make our county a more inclusive and welcoming place for all. I also travel to other countries such as Kenya and Kosovo to help people in crisis through my social enterprise Tamu Bakery, specifically tackling gender-based violence.”