ROCHESTER, NY – An Eastman School of Music graduate attempts to escape the city of Kiev, Ukraine as Russian troops continue their assault on the country.
“Everyone is nervous here right now,” said violinist Kostia Lukyniuk. “It’s very stressful, but you know, we’re holding on.”
Crouching in a dark, crowded Kiev train station, Lukyniuk and his brother try to get to safety as Russian forces attack the city.
“We just have all of our stuff here, all of our instruments and personal effects,” Lukyniuk said. “Literally, everything I have is with me right now. It’s packed with people and it’s pitch black.
Among the items Lukyniuk takes with him is his violin.
Just a few weeks ago, Lukyniuk was in Rochester to attend Eastman School of Music. But his visa requirements forced him to return to Ukraine.
“So I stayed until the very last day that I could, but I had to leave, and as soon as I got here, February 12, in 12 days, it all happened,” said Lukyniuk.
On Tuesday, after hearing explosions for days and now witnessing death, the brothers headed to the train station to escape to their hometown in the western region of the country. Lukyniuk described the serious situation in Kyiv.
“Actually, there were some really bad things that happened,” Lukyniuk said. “This TV tower that we have for communication power was hit by rockets today and five bystanders were completely killed on the spot.”
Like the rest of the Ukrainian population, Lukyniuk is forced to leave his normal life for a life of war.
“I’m not a soldier. I’m a musician,” Lukyniuk said.
The 22-year-old wants to use his music and his platform to raise awareness and funds for Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting.
He credits Rochester for helping him hone his craft and grow in so many ways.
“Rochester became very close to me because I made some amazing friends there and met a lot of amazing people there who were very supportive and still very supportive of me,” Lukyniuk said. “I have a very warm feeling about the people of Rochester.”
While Kostia would rather play the violin and perform, the goal now is for him and his brother to stay alive.
“Especially now they are bombing everything,” Lukyniuk said. “They’re bombing, so who knows if they’re bombing this place right now or not. I don’t really know, but I hope it won’t happen.