Where the actress Dasha Volha, who met the invasion in Moscow, where she came to get a Russian passport, disappeared and where she lives now
The popular Ukrainian actress Dasha Volha ("Late Repentance", "Waiting List", "My Girls", "A House with Other People's Secrets", "After Winter", "The Ex") moved to New Zealand with her husband 20 years ago. For many years, she flew home for filming, and in 2018 she rented out her house in Auckland and came to Kyiv with her children.
In a conversation with OBOZ.UA, the actress was shocked by the news that she met the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in Moscow. The actress thought she had come there only for a few days to get documents, but was able to escape only a month later.
Dasha Volha was born in Kyiv in June 1974. Her mother, Valentyna Plotnikova, People's Artist of Ukraine, was a leading actress at the Ivan Franko Theater in Kyiv. Her father, Volodymyr Volha, is a designer. After the Chernobyl accident, the family moved to Moscow. Valentina Plotnikova was invited to the Sovremennik Theater. The future actress Dasha finished school there and entered the Moscow VGIK (her mentors were Armen Dzhigarkhanyan and Albert Filozov). Later, Dasha's parents returned to Kyiv.
In the early 2000s, the actress moved to New Zealand with her husband. Andrii Franchuk, the actress's fiancé, is an IT specialist, but he tried his hand at filmmaking. He has played roles in Ukrainian films such as "The Guide", "Unbreakable", "The House with Lilies", and others. Dasha Volha also actively flew in from New Zealand for filming, starring in many well-known TV series and movies.
In the summer of 2018, she rented out her house on the ocean and moved to Kyiv with her sons. The reason was her father's serious illness , but she didn't talk about it publicly (the actress's mother died in 2002 of cancer).
"I realized that I didn't just need to bring my grandchildren to their grandfather for a while, I wanted them to be together," she said in an interview. For some time I had thoughts of taking him to New Zealand with us. I thought it would be better! But now I realize that my dad is better off where he is rooted, where he has a job (and he still works at the age of 78). He has many projects. One of them is the development of social housing for guys returning from the ATO."
The actress thought she was coming to Ukraine for a year, but she stayed for more than four. She enrolled her sons in an English-speaking school, and very quickly began to get leading roles in Ukrainian films. And later, she started filming herself. Volha has won several prestigious awards for directing the film Water. Later she directed the movie Suri, starring Olesia Zhurakivska. She also directs theatrical performances. In particular, a project that was called one of the most high-profile premieres of the year in 2020: the production "Tolik the Milkman", which featured Ruslana Pysanka, Ostap Stupka, TV presenter Oleksii Sukhanov, and politician Boryslav Bereza.
The actress met the full-scale invasion... in Moscow. Dasha Volha told us in detail what happened to her then.
"When I arrived in Kyiv in 2018, I had two passports - a New Zealand passport and a Russian passport, which I received in my youth while living with my parents in Moscow. And you won't believe it: it turned out that it was easier to get temporary residence permits in Ukraine with a Russian passport," says the actress. - "And I needed it very urgently: my dad got cancer. But I felt so strange when I heard: "We will consider New Zealand documents for at least a year. Apply with your Russian passport and you will have your residence permit in a month." I was speechless, and it was very offensive to hear this as a New Zealand citizen who is in favor of Ukraine. When Crimea had already been taken away and the bloody massacre in Donbas was going on. Can you imagine?"
"However, I get a residence permit and forget about my Russian documents," Volga continues, "I live in Ukraine, act in great projects, make my own movies. And in December 2021, I fly to Istanbul and lose my residence permit there. This is the worst thing that can happen to me. The Russian passport for which the Ukrainian document is issued is expired - I wasn't going to renew it. What could I do? I went to all the Ukrainian authorities. I turned to lawyers. One of them, a very professional specialist who defends political refugees from Russia who fled the regime and then had problems with their documents here, told me that our authorities are so clumsy that they still extradite citizens to Russia who are hunted not only by the FSB, but also by Chechens . Those who are promised to have their heads cut off in their homeland are handed over from here."
"I was told that there was nothing I could do except go to Russia to get my documents restored, return to Ukraine, and get my Ukrainian residence permit back," says Dasha. "Without a residence permit, I can't go to any project or sign a contract for filming. I decided I had to go. And on February 20, 2022, I found myself in Moscow. A day earlier, I was supposed to be issued a temporary document at the Russian embassy in Kyiv, which allowed me to stay in their country for a short time. I remember arriving at the embassy, and there was a girl sitting there who recognized me and took me for her own: "We will do everything quickly, and you should leave as soon as possible." She does not tell me that the war will start any day now, but I read this message. Nevertheless, I take the ticket and go."
"And upon arrival, I am detained at the Moscow airport, along with citizens from the UK, Lithuania, and America. They take our documents and take us to the shift supervisor. Later, by some miracle, they give me my documents back, and the woman who flew in from London is taken somewhere - and I hear what they say: "Unfortunately, an invitation from your sister is not enough - you are a citizen of an unfriendly state." And I realize that something is growing like a snowball."
"I am allowed to enter this Moscow, I go to apply for sh*tty documents, and a few days later the invasion begins. And I realize, sitting in my friend's apartment, that my documents say that I was born in Kyiv, came from Kyiv, and my Wikipedia biography says that I condemned the Russian invasion of Crimea and Donbas." If you want, you can make such a high-profile spy out of me that detective writers will be jealous."
"You know, in those terrible days I felt like I had a concrete slab on my chest. My friend's daughter would come to me and tell me that she was just riding the subway, and the police were snatching students' phones and checking what sites they were looking at. Some were grabbed and dragged by the skin of their teeth. It's a really sadistic state. Her friend was later dragged by force to the military registration and enlistment office, he stuck his hands out of his jacket and ran away. And I found myself in the lair of all this horror. And if I had been there alone, I would have gone crazy. My friend called my family, my children (they had already left for New Zealand with their father by that time), but I still had hysterics every day. It was unbearable to be inside the abomination. My children talked to me about only one thing: "Mom, will you be able to get out? Will they let you out?" I can only imagine how they felt: when we were reunited in March, my eldest son must have walked with me for a month by the hand. And this is despite the fact that he is an adult, independent boy."
"I grew up in Moscow since 1986, and I got my first passport there, back in the Soviet Union," Volha explains why she had a Russian passport, "and then I met my future husband, Andriy, who is from Kyiv. My parents later returned to Kyiv, and my mother passed away. My father changed his passport to a Ukrainian one. I graduated from a theater school, acted in both Ukraine and Russia. But then I began to understand very clearly what was happening there. And then the Maidan happened. And I chose Ukraine and stayed in Ukraine. And it was the most amazing period of my life. I made my dearest friends here and was with my family in a difficult period of their lives. My mother-in-law and my father are buried in Kyiv."
Dasha recalls that when she left for Russia, thinking that she would return to Kyiv in a few days, she left her cat in her apartment: "The war started. And for three days I was screaming on all social networks: save my cat. But no one dared to go there - the apartment was located near the Zhytomyrska metro station. It was so loud there that our house was shaking. Then there were kind people who took my frightened animal to a safe place. And she was taken in by an amazing woman, Tetiana, from western Ukraine. Her husband and youngest son are in the Armed Forces. She volunteers herself. We have already talked so much with her, we correspond. When I go to the west, I know that I have a person there whom I would really like to hug."
Volha now lives in Auckland, New Zealand: "The eldest is 20 years old and went to university, the youngest is 9. The children left Ukraine on the eve of the war, on February 7, with the help of their father. My husband Andrii and I had divorced at that time. But we remained great friends and parents to our children. Now he also lives in New Zealand with his new wife and little daughter. We are all on good terms."
Before coming to Ukraine, Dasha Volha graduated from the University of New Zealand with a Master of Arts degree. She studied pedagogy, child psychology, and received the right to teach: "I thought, 'If I don't have any acting projects at some point, I can always make a living. And now I've been invited to the best college in Auckland - I'll be teaching there next year. In addition, there are offers from several other educational institutions. One of them is considered the best in New Zealand. As an artist, I'm fulfilled, I love what I do, but now I like to open the way to this world for other people."
"You know, I try not to talk too much about my current life on social media, because it turns out that I seem to be in chocolate when other Ukrainians are going through such a difficult time. It so happened that 20 years ago I left Kyiv, gave birth to my children here, and now they are back home. But it is a fact that they have fallen in love with Ukraine over the years, have stuck with it and now follow Kyiv life every day. We look through the photos with ny son: "Mom, it was so good there, so many friends. In Kyiv, we had such a rich and interesting life, which is not something that many people in New Zealand have. The culture here is amazing."
"The eldest Anton monitors the news all the time, talks to everyone here about the war, posts Ukrainian stories endlessly," Dasha adds. "He works part-time at the university and sends donations. He helps me organize events in support of Ukraine. I started actively learning Ukrainian, I studied at a foreign school in Kyiv, but I didn't have time to master Ukrainian at a sufficient level."
Dasha Volha painfully admits that the war in Ukraine is not written about abroad as often as it used to be: "We left the front pages. The first year I arrived, we were actively organizing events. We even organized several film festivals. People came, actively participated, donated. We were invited for interviews on TV and radio. I went to colleges and told children about what was happening in Ukraine. Now everything has quieted down."
"I think we need a different strategy. We need to stop talking about ourselves exclusively from the perspective of the victims of this war. Because the war continues, people get tired of sympathizing. And it's useless to be offended by the world that is in a different situation. It is also useless to force them to live with our traumas. For example, when we screened the film Bad Roads by Natalka Vorozhbyt here, New Zealanders came out of the audience and admitted that their psyche could not stand it, that it was hard to watch. They couldn't stand it for an hour. They want to live their lives and be happy. That's why we need other methods to attract them to our side."
"I must say, in this sense, Russia is very inventive," Volha continues, "We need to change as well. Roughly speaking, we need to 'sell' ourselves to the world. We need to be interesting, competitive, and attractive. We need to make people want to be with Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian people. Yes, we are victims, but we have to grit our teeth and offer the world what it does not have. Because the Russians continue to aggressively impose their culture, and no one here is going to cancel it, to be honest. We must loudly declare our depth, unique space, and beauty."
"Your readers may now accuse me of not having experienced a part of the horror that people have experienced. I agree, but now I am broadcasting the sentiments of people abroad who can help us financially. They are doing it, but their enthusiasm is gradually fading - I see where things are headed. We have to be more inventive, more flexible, smarter than just war victims who need help. This is the message from here. I would also like to add that the support for Ukraine in New Zealand is still quite strong . I am constantly invited to charity events to raise funds. Wealthy New Zealanders want to leave a good mark. They understand which side is right."
Also read on OBOZ.UA an interview with TV presenter Oleksii Sukhanov about "good Russians" and relatives he does not want to know.