A UKRANIAN who has lost nearly everything having come from the doomed city of Mariupol is rebuilding his life in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Yurii Filin, 20, came to Wales almost a year ago after fleeing Putin’s evil war and one of the most bloodthirsty and tragic areas of the campaign.

On February 24, Mariupol went through an infamous three-month siege which largely destroyed the city. On May 16 Ukrainian troops who remained in the city surrendered at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, with Russia securing complete control of the area.

Yurii said he thought it was a game when the war began at 3am on February 24 last year, as he was returning from a long shift working as a barista.

“I was so scared for the first three days,” said Yurii. “I did not understand what was going on. It was like a game. A nightmare. I cannot believe it.”

However, it was no game, but what has turned into an evil campaign of attrition with both the Ukrainian and Russian sides sustaining thousands of casualties.

Yurii saw open warfare on the streets round his apartment block and had to hide in basements for months on end. He has lost nearly everything, his home, his possessions and contact with his family – his father stayed in the country with his grandparents who were too old to move. Yurii has little contact with them, under Russian rule.

When Yurii fled with his mother Inna he had to move to countless countries in Europe – Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia, all in a short period of time, going from one accommodation to another before the pair found home here in the Vale.

Now Yurii works at Foxy’s Café in Penarth, after finding owner Sian Fox through Facebook and Sian agreeing to host him.

He and his mother also have a flat in Barry, provided for him by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

“Foxy’s is an amazing place,” said a spritely Yurii inbetween a busy shift at the café. “Wales is an amazing place! People are really helpful here. They are interested. If you ask them for help, say directions to the library, they will help you.”

Penarth Times:

Yurii described Wales as a fantastic place where people help you

You wouldn’t blame Yurii for having contempt for the Russian people, however he still sees good in them, but has a word of advice.

“Russia has nice people,” says Yurii, “but they are like zombies believing the propaganda.”

Yurii was at Mariupol Marine College studying to work on ships such as cruiseliners. After that college was destroyed, he now he has a new future and a new dream in Wales, attending Cardiff and Vale College, finishing his GCSEs before going to university and pursuing a career in IT.

At the end of our interview Yurii still has the courage to smile and simply said, “Thank you to Foxy’s and Wales for all your help.”