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For some Ukrainians, the war is forcing dramatic career changes

#Ukrainians #war #forcing #dramatic #career

Denys Zhupnyk dreams of concerts and festivals while driving around Kiev in a taxi, getting passengers on and off.

Before Russia invaded his country, the 34-year-old was a radio and television presenter and worked for Ukraine’s most popular channels. He greeted pop stars on red carpets and took the stage in front of large audiences.

But like many Ukrainians, Zhupnyk has had to dramatically change the way he makes ends meet as war ravages the country’s economy, upturning entire industries and forcing countless people – especially men – to join the fight .

“The car I used to drive to work is now my workplace,” he says, standing in front of his Volkswagen parked behind an old garage.

Now that Ukraine is turning all its efforts to repelling the Russian invasion, the country’s entertainment industry has largely ground to a halt and he no longer has a full-time job.

“I was forced to do this because I don’t have a fixed salary and our savings are running out fast,” said Zhupnyk, who is wearing a gray hoodie.

“I have two children, a wife, a dog. They all want to eat and do normal things,” he said.

Zhupnyk misses his old life of hosting open-air music festivals and wearing black ties on TV shows.

As he drives around Kyiv accepting offers from customers on his phone, his mind is elsewhere.

“Every second and every minute I dream of what I did before,” he said.

“I dream of concerts, TV sets, radio streams.”

Since Moscow rolled tanks into Ukraine on February 24, thousands have been killed and millions have fled.

Faced with draining capital and rising unemployment, Ukraine has turned to Western help to keep the economy afloat.

“Careers that people have built for years are being destroyed,” Zhupnyk said.

– Ballet stage to the construction site –

The professional dancer and choreographer Oleksiy Busko knows only too well what that means.

The war forced him to exchange ballet stages for construction sites.

After 22 years of theater dance, including a decade as a soloist, Busko now has to carry sandbags and drill into walls.

“Now I have nothing to do in my area, it stopped completely so I had to work as a construction worker,” the muscular 38-year-old told AFP.

“It’s the only thing that saves me materialistically at the moment.”

Like Zhupnyk, Busko has no military training, so he’s not the first to be sent to the front lines to fight.

Before Moscow’s attack, Busko performed emotional modern dances accompanied by opera singing.

Now his day is filled with the noise of drilling and heavy machinery on site.

For other Ukrainians, it is not the first time that the war has caused them to completely change their lives.

Cameraman Nikita Priymenko fled his home in Donetsk in 2014 when war broke out with Moscow-backed separatists and settled in Kyiv.

But with the massive invasion of the Kremlin, the 33-year-old’s life has changed dramatically again.

As he is not active in the art field, he has switched his life on the film set to work as a mechanic in a motorcycle workshop.

“Up until February 24, I worked as a cinema operator,” he told AFP after working on a motorcycle.

“I work here because I have nothing to live on.”

He’s getting used to the fact that his work “has changed from artistic to physical” and that the salary is much lower.

“But at least it’s some kind of money.”

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#Ukrainians #war #forcing #dramatic #career

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