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Live From Studio D: Folk singer Andriy Zharkov's journey from Ukraine to NH after Russia's invasion

Andriy Zharkov
Jackie Harris
Andriy Zharkov fled Ukraine in 2022 after Russia invaded. He now lives in the Upper Valley with his extended family.

Millions of people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, with about 150 Ukrainians now living in New Hampshire.

Andriy Zharkov is one of these new residents to the Granite State, and he joined NHPR for the latest edition of Live from Studio D. He'll be performing this weekend at a fundraiser in Concord called Voices United for Ukraine.

Below is a transcript of Zharkov's conversation with NHPR's Rick Ganley. Zharkov's responses are translated by Natalia Karaulova. The conversation is spoken in Russian, while the songs are sung in Ukrainian.

Andriy Zharkov speaks with NHPR's Rick Ganley about his escape from Ukraine.
Andriy Zharkov speaks with NHPR's Rick Ganley about his escape from Ukraine.


Rick Ganley: Can you tell us about your story [and] how you came to be in New Hampshire?

Andriy Zharkov: My story is very similar to the story of hundred thousands of modern Ukrainians. We lived in a small town in the eastern Ukraine. We had a job, a normal life. But somebody came to kill us.

Ganley: What did you do in Ukraine [for work]?

Zharkov: So for many years I worked as the head of the technical factory producing explosives for mountaineering purposes.

Ganley: Can you tell me about the day that the war started?

Zharkov: In the morning, [my] younger son called [to me] to say, 'Hey, Dad, the war has started. Have you heard the shots?'

Ganley: What's happened to your town now? What's happened to the city?

Seven minutes after us leaving [our] shelters, two large missiles hit the buildings and destroyed them.
Andriy Zharkov

Zharkov: The region was really targeted because of the chemical technical factory that [we] lived nearby. And for 14 days and 14 nights, [me] and [my] younger daughter and granddaughter spent in a shelter in the basement hiding. So when [we] were able to come out of the shelter, there pretty much was nothing. And right now, there is nothing left of the neighborhood where [we] lived and the region where [we] lived. It's basically just dust and ashes.

Ganley: After two weeks of being in the bomb shelter, you were able to come up. How did you find safe passage out of the city?

Zharkov: [My] younger daughter Nina, and her friend— with a lot of risk to their life— periodically tried to come out of the shelter just to get some connection with the outside world. So by luck, she was able to get the news that there would be [an] evacuation happening nearby. So [we] got what they could and [we] rushed to the evacuation site. And seven minutes after us leaving [our] shelters, two large missiles hit the buildings and destroyed them.

Zharkov, his daughter, grand daughter and a few family friends made it out of town and were able to cross the border into Romania. After a few months, they made their way to New Hampshire’s Upper Valley, where they were united with Zharkov's eldest daughter, Katherine, who was already established in the state and raising a family.

Having arrived with next to nothing, Zharkov says his daughter gave him a guitar so he could feel at home while remembering his past.

Ganley: What does playing those songs now mean to you here?

Zharkov: These songs that [I] played were one of the brightest of [my] childhood memories. They stuck with [me] when [I] was young. And [the] question seems very simple, but there is so much to unfold in that question. What they mean for [me]? So starting from the necessity for [my] soul, a sort of healing that [I] get from singing in Ukrainian language and also to, um, to the feeling of patriotism for [my] country.

Ganley: Can I ask you about the other two songs that you played? What significance they have? Do they have significance to to past wars?

Zharkov: Good question. So Chervona Ruta, the third song — it was written during [the time of the] Soviet Union, but by [an] author from the Western, you know, more of the independent movement of Ukraine. And it actually has become a symbol of independency, of freedom of Ukraine. Even though we were under Soviet Union, under oppression, it was a symbol of freedom.

Ganley: A declaration.

Zharkov: A declaration, yeah.

Ganley: Is there anything else that you would like to add? I know that there's so much to talk about.

Zharkov: God bless America and all of you.

Ganley: Thank you. And you as well. Thank you, both.

Andriy Zharkov will be performing April 1 at the Voices for Ukraine fundraising event at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Concord. Proceeds from this event will go to theSunflower Network, a grassroots group delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Before becoming Program Director, Quirk served as NHPR's production manager. During that time she's voiced and crafted the 'sound of the station,' coordinated countless on-air fundraisers, produced segments for Give Back NH, Something Wild, New Hampshire Calling, and developed NHPR's own NHPR Music vertical with features such as Live from Studio D, and long-loved favorites like Holidays By Request.
For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
Jackie Harris is the Morning Edition Producer at NHPR. She first joined NHPR in 2021 as the Morning Edition Fellow.

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