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UVA Student Speaks to NBC29 after Visiting Ukraine during Protes - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Student Speaks to NBC29 after Visiting Ukraine during Protests

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Photo courtesy of Mateo Diachok Photo courtesy of Mateo Diachok

The crisis in Ukraine was a dominant headline for weeks, but as the United States works with foreign diplomats to ease the tension, the issues have taken a back seat.

But for some students at the University of Virginia with strong ties to Ukraine, it's still a major concern. Tuesday night, NBC29 spoke with one of those students, Mateo Diachok.

"Both sets of my grandparents were born in Ukraine. My parents came over with them right after World War II,” Diachok said.

Diachok, a third-year student at UVA, was born in New York but has been surrounded by a large Ukrainian community his whole life. The recent crisis really hit home for him.

"Ukraine has had a tumultuous past, before the Soviet Union and now. It's always been a fight for freedom,” he said.

So much so that he went over in December to see the protests himself.

"Seeing the tumultuous past few months has really struck a chord with me that made me decide to go over,” he said.

Diachok was able to witness what were at the time peaceful protests.

"There were no violent outbreaks,” he said. “I felt extremely safe on the square. There were all kinds of people there."

But just shortly after he left, things became very violent. Now things have settled down and with the recent annexation of Crimea, he says it's a place he hopes to return to soon.

"In the summer if things are not too violent, I think it would be really interesting to go in and see what is basically a new nation under a new government get on its feet,” Diachok said.

The Slavic Student Association at UVA is very involved right now in trying to educate students about the situation in Ukraine.

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