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Relatives in Crimea, destroyed property in Kyiv, and thoughts on the war in Ukraine. How does the Turkish singer who dedicated a song to Zaluzhnyi live?

Ozan Dayi

Turkish musician Ozan Dayi, who recently presented a song in honor of the former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny, has become the subject of almost all Ukrainian media publications. OBOZ.UA managed to talk to the singer, who once lived in Kyiv and now lives in Istanbul.

The singer considers Ukraine to be his second homeland and has been writing and performing songs in Ukrainian since the beginning of the Great War. According to him, in this way, he wants to "pay back the debt to the country" where he wants to return in some time.

Ozan Dayi currently lives and works in Turkey. Before the full-scale invasion, he was in Ukraine – he lived in Kyiv for more than six years. He says that he knew quite a lot about our country when he came here: "On my father's side, my relatives are Crimeans, Crimean Tatars. Our roots are in Crimea. And I can say with confidence that Ukraine is my second homeland. The place where my family comes from. At one time, I was very interested in Ukrainian history, especially the Cossacks." According to Ozan, he did not go to complete obscurity – he already had friends and relatives in Ukraine.

Relatives in Crimea, destroyed property in Kyiv, and thoughts on the war in Ukraine. How does the Turkish singer who dedicated a song to Zaluzhnyi live?

The young man had far-reaching plans: he dreamed of studying at a music academy. However, over time, he had to give it up. He rented an apartment in the Kurenivka neighborhood of Kyiv, and got a job, but continued to actively practice music in his free time. Ozan says that after the invasion, one of the arrivals in Kyiv took place not far from the house where he once rented an apartment: "Unfortunately, all my personal belongings - instruments, equipment – were destroyed. Because of this missile and because of this war. There was a fire. However, I don't want to talk about it much, to complain, because it's completely wrong for those Ukrainians who lost much more."

Ozan recalls his life in Kyiv as comfortable: "Frankly speaking, I thought at first that it would be hard for me to get used to it. Because this is a different country, a different nation, a different language. But later I realized that the mentality is not very different. In Istanbul, we live almost the same way. Living in Kyiv, I did not feel that I was far from my home. I liked my second home, Ukraine."

According to Ozan, while getting to know Ukrainians, he noted some interesting nuances: "I think your people value art more. If you do it, you are a respectable person. People are sincerely interested in your work. In Turkey, it's a little different. In addition, it is easier to provide for yourself economically in Ukraine than in Turkey. Maybe it's because we have a larger population – I don't know. But I found many alternatives for myself in my business life. It is harder to do business in Turkey. And the working conditions in Ukraine are much better than in my country."

"And besides art, I can tell you about the geographical beauty," Ozan adds, "Ukraine is a very beautiful country, and it really impressed me. I tried to visit everywhere. The north, the west, the east, especially the south, around Crimea. I was amazed."

Relatives in Crimea, destroyed property in Kyiv, and thoughts on the war in Ukraine. How does the Turkish singer who dedicated a song to Zaluzhnyi live?

In February 2022, Ozan went home to Turkey to visit his family. A week later, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. "I started doing charity performances for Ukraine from the first week of the great war," says the Turkish singer. "And if you look at my Facebook profile, you will see that I have been a patriot of the country since 2014. I am a nationalist of Ukraine. How could it be otherwise? My beloved country is being invaded by a neighboring country."

"I started creating music in the studio," Ozan continues, "It was a lot of work because I was writing many compositions at the same time. Five or six songs in Ukrainian were born. I was invited to give concerts by the embassy and other organizations related to Ukraine. I usually perform live. I've been helping and plan to continue to help – I consider it my duty. Because Ukraine gave me a lot in my time: I earned money there and made a career. I would like to repay the debt, you know?"

Relatives in Crimea, destroyed property in Kyiv, and thoughts on the war in Ukraine. How does the Turkish singer who dedicated a song to Zaluzhnyi live?

According to Ozan, not all Turks know what is really happening in Ukraine. They especially had little information when the Russians invaded Crimea. "I was shocked that some people don't know about this invasion," Ozan says. "But why? This whole tragedy started in Crimea. That's why I want to provide people with more educational information. For me, my family and friends, Crimea is Ukraine."

"For some reason, many people think that the war began on February 24, 2022. No, it started much earlier. I can't tell everyone about it, although I'm trying very hard," adds our interlocutor, "But I can assure you that more than half of our population supports Ukraine. The government does too," the musician adds.

When asked why he decided to dedicate the song to Valeriy Zaluzhny, our hero says: "I have great respect for General Zaluzhnyi because he was active from the first days of the war. Although I am a musician, I also have soldier's roots. I recently completed my army mission in the Turkish Armed Forces. And I know how hard it is to be a commander. And even more so – the head of the military in a country that is actively at war."

"Unfortunately, the general position on the general has changed under the president's rule, as I know," the singer continues, "but I wanted to show Zaluzhnyi how grateful we are to him. For me, he is a legend, a hero."

Ozan says that he plans to return to Ukraine eventually, because he is sure that he left the most precious things there: "My dreams, my brothers, my sisters. Of course, I will return. I will continue to make music. I still have many attractive concert invitations from Ukraine. This is very motivating." In Turkey, Ozan works for an international company, continues to play music, and is studying Ukrainian intensively.

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