War in Ukraine: new Internet radio from Prague to inform refugees

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – “Here Radio Ukraine”.

A new Prague internet radio has begun broadcasting news, information and music about the daily worries of some 300,000 refugees who arrived in the Czech Republic after Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine.

In a studio in the center of the Czech capital, radio veterans work with newcomers to the craft to teach refugees what they need to know to make it as easy as possible for them to settle in their new country.

The staff of about ten people consists of people who have left Ukraine in recent weeks, as well as Ukrainians who have been living abroad for years. Their common goal is to help their Ukrainian compatriots and their homeland in the face of a Russian invasion that has been going on for more than a month.

Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, explained that she could not refuse an offer to become the channel’s editor-in-chief.

“This is for my people, for people who really need help, support, something to help them start a new life or start their life here after a bad experience when they tried to escape from this. Ukraine,” said Mrs. Churikova.

In her team, Sofia Tatomir is one of those who fled to escape the war.

A 22-year-old girl from the western city of Kalush was planning to move to another city in Ukraine when a friend called her one morning and said the war had just begun.

Her parents and older brother preferred to stay in their native country, but they wanted Sofia to join her aunt in Prague.

She boarded a bus in Czernyutsy alone and 28 hours later arrived in the capital of the Czech Republic, a city she had never been to.

“Having arrived abroad, I remember crying, trying to buy a ticket and could not write the ticket I needed. It was really difficult,” she said.

Sofia Tatomir worked as a graphic designer and singer in Ukraine, but broadcasting was part of her university course. To his surprise, his aunt’s brother found an ad for a job at a new Ukrainian radio station.

“This is the best way to help our people, to help Ukraine. That’s how I see it, she said.

Safe in Prague, she was still trying to come to terms with the invasion of her homeland.

“It’s terrible. I still can’t find a logical explanation for what they do and why they do it. Is there war in the 21st century? Why? We were a peaceful nation that lived only its own life,” she said.

Another presenter, Margarita Golobrodskaya, was working as an editor for a software company when she received a call from Churikova, whom she knew from her internship at Radio Free Europe.

“I used to think that people who get up early to be ready for work from 6 in the morning are crazy, but now I do it and I really like it,” said Ms. Golobrodskaya. “This is what I always wanted to do, to be useful for my country, even though I live so far away.”

For 12 hours every weekday – and until 11 am on weekends – Radio Ukraine plays Ukrainian and Western music, and every 15 minutes publishes news from Ukraine and the Czech Republic and information about refugees. It provides details on where they can get the necessary paperwork from the local government, how to get a job or get medical care, and the process of sending children to school. Young people can also listen to Ukrainian fairy tales here.

Margarita Golobrodskaya is from Nikolaev and has been living in the Czech Republic for eight and a half years. After the invasion of Ukraine, she traveled to the west of her native country to meet her mother and 9-year-old sister and take them to safety. In Prague, she used them in her show.

Bohemia Media, which operates several radio stations in the Czech Republic, came up with the idea to launch this station. He provided a studio and his people collaborated with the Ukrainian embassy, ​​the local Ukrainian community and others to bring it to life in just three weeks. This also applies to wages.

Lukas Nadvornik, owner of Mediapark, the company representing Bohemia Media, said the plan was for the station to remain on the air for as long as necessary. The main task at the moment is to make sure that as many potential listeners as possible learn about its existence.

One of them is Sofia Medvedeva. The 23-year-old web designer broke down in tears as she talked about a six-day trip with her mother and younger brother from Nikolaev to Krakow, Poland.

In Prague, she joins her fiancé, and Radio Ukraine helps her adapt to her new life.

“I am so amazed that I have the opportunity to listen to Ukrainian music when I am not at home. I feel like I’m not alone,” she said. His only recommendation is to invite a psychologist to “advise Ukrainian refugees on how to deal with survivor syndrome and depression.”

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