News From Ukraine: War’s impact severely affected small businesses

There is a small village in Ukraine’s Donbas region, called New York, that has been controlled by separatists since 2014. When violence escalated, a bakery owner relocated her business to Kyiv. Today, she is still dealing with the war.

Latifundist Media tells us her story:

Owner of the Bakery “New York,” Oksana Linko says, “It all started back in 2014. Sometimes the shelling was more intense, other times, less so. People eventually got used to it, even now when the shelling is less heavy or it is quiet. Everyone stays at home, everybody is afraid. As soon as shelling starts, they take children and their pets and go out for a walk. People are accustomed to it, and if it is quiet, it is scary. We start wondering about why it is quiet, about what goes on in the silence.”

Oksana Linko owns a bakery in the front-line town of New York, the Donbas region, which is now actively shelled by the Russian army. New York was founded by German Mennonites, at the end of the 19th century. During the time of the Soviet Union, the town was renamed Novhorodske because the settlements and the Stalinist era could not be named in honor of American cities. Just a few years ago, New York got its historic name back, and it is where the bakery is located. The owner says that after the start of the large-scale war, the bakery was open for a few days, but then she had to shut it down. According to people living in the village, the bakery is still standing, but many buildings around it have been destroyed.

“It’s weird, but I don’t miss my apartment. I miss the bakery, the business, and the people because so much was invested in it and plenty of time was spent there,” said Oksana Linko.

Today, there is a program in Ukraine for relocating businesses from temporarily occupied territories or locations where military operations are underway. Oksana decided to join the program and is now choosing between locations in Kyiv and the wider Kyiv region.

“If Russian troops advance into the town, I will definitely not reopen the bakery there. Even if they do not, what can I expect? Something has to be done now, we can’t be on hold all the time. We will be searching for grants and buying equipment. We’ll try to get our big oven out there, and the small furnace and half of the equipment are already here. We’re going to start here. We had the idea of opening up a New York bakery in both Kyiv and New York before,” Oksana Linko says.

Oksana says she used to love visiting Kyiv because she was able to rest here from the war in the East. Now, this feeling is gone because the damaged Russian military equipment standing in the middle of the city reminds her of the war.

Reporter: did you dream of a bakery?

“Yes, and now I’m still dreaming. Now, I try not to look at photos of destroyed buildings there. It is emotionally very difficult. I want to remember everything as it was before as if nothing was destroyed,” said Linko.

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