9 March 2022
A Melbourne Anglican ordination candidate fears for her family Ukraine, the country in which she was born.
Victoria Bakerov has remained in constant contact with her relatives in Ukraine through Facebook messenger during the Russian invasion, but has been unable to call to speak to them.
“I’m very distressed about the situation in the land where I was born,” Ms Bakerov said.
“Ukraine is constantly on my mind and I sometimes worry a lot, but if I become very emotional I start singing songs about how the Lord is Lord of everything and everyone.”
Ms Bakerov was born in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, about 260 kilometres to the southwest of Kyiv. Her many relatives in Ukraine still live in Vinnytsia, including cousins, nephews and nieces.
She said the city appeared to have become a major city for treating the wounded, taking in people and giving them care.
Ms Bakerov said that she tried to ignore the temptation to worry about her relatives and instead turned to God.
“I trust Him and pray and that’s what I can do. I can’t do anything else. But it’s not the last option, it’s the first option, the prayer. I pray a lot and I sing songs,” she said.
Recently, she sent a message to a member of her family who didn’t reply. She assumed the worst. But he eventually answered and said he was working in a hospital.
Ms Bakerov said she wanted people to know that Ukrainians did feel supported by the wider world. She said their overall mood was one of defiance.
She said her oldest cousin, a doctor, was aged 63 and not allowed to fight. He got his family out of Ukraine, and immediately returned to continue work.
“My oldest cousin was very emotional. He was saying, ‘I will fight, I will stand for my land’,” Ms Bakerov said.
“I said, ‘I don’t want you to die’ and he said, ‘I don’t want to die either, I want to hug you. I really want to hug you.’
“He said, ‘if I have to die on my land, for my land, I will die.’”
Read more: Melbourne Ukrainians pray, rally for peace
Ms Bakerov said the war in Ukraine was basically a “forced union” between Russia and Ukraine. But she said, she knew a Russian proverb saying “you can’t become loved by force.”
“I believe it’s a bad choice. Wouldn’t it be better to ask for the Ukrainian people if they want to be part of a union again?” she said.
Ms Bakerov said she didn’t know for sure that all her relatives were safe, although none of them were in the army.
However, she said all Ukrainians were readying themselves for the possibility of fighting.
“The ones who have small kids, they’re ready to be called to fight,” she said.
“Everyone is trying to help. They’re protecting their own homes, their own land.”
Ms Bakerov, a registered nurse, is currently studying at Ridley College and hopes to be ordained in 2023.