Strictly Come Dancing star Nikita Kuzmin has discussed his grandmother’s escape from Ukraine which saw her having to walk miles for the first time since undergoing an operation.
The professional dancer starred in the 2021 series of the BBC dance contest with Tilly Ramsay. He has now spoken openly about the plight of his family from him and those in his home country of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began last month.
Nikita, 24, was born in Ukraine before he and his family moved to Italy when he was nine years old. But earlier this month he spoke of his fear of him for his grandmother, who remained in the country weeks into the invasion.
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Appearing on Lorraine Kelly’s ITV show earlier this month, the Strictly star heartbreakingly told the host of his grandmother: “She’s actually trying to protect us from being scared. Every time we can hear gun shots or explosions in the background, she’s always telling us it’s a movie on the TV. Only a couple hours later she’s confessing those were real gun shots and it’s incredibly scary.”
However, there was some good news when Nikita shared that he and his grandmother had been reunited in Poland after she escaped and he had traveled from Germany to meet her.
Their was widespread relief as Nikita shared the news with his loyal Instagram following. He uses the platform to keep speaking out on the devastating issues people in his home country are facing and directing people to how they can help.
And speaking about his grandmother on The One Show on Monday evening, Nikita told hosts Emma Willis and Jermaine Jenas: “She managed to escape from Kyiv. We didn’t know if she would manage on the way from Kyiv to Poland, the streets in which the bus passes you don’t know if the Russian troops are going to shoot the bus and we were all the time anxious, there were two strike points.
“On the border she had to walk five miles, she hadn’t walked until last year she had an operation, this is when your instincts kick in and she managed to do all of it and she surprised us.”
The dancer then added: “She’s just so brave and I just love her so much,” before revealing that his grandmother arrived 13 hours ahead of schedule but said it was “heart-breaking” to see other families at the railway station who were suffering .
Nikita and his family moved from Ukraine to Italy to support his sister’s dancing career, which prompted his own career to flourish. He said that all his childhood friends of him, people he has trained with and competed against “are all right now defending the country from invasion.”
“It is exactly when it hits you home when you start to see the streets in which you have been walking which you grew up, where all your childhood was, right now being destroyed, bombed and it is honestly just heart-breaking and I’ m just praying for the best.
“I still have my grandparents in Kyiv, my aunt, for the moment they are safe but obviously we are just trying to call them every day and hope that they answer. Every day you just hope for the best.”
Speaking about the outpouring of support from people across the world for those having to flee their homes and lives in Ukraine, Nikita added: “It is so inspiring to see everybody uniting, I can just feel the love and the appreciation from all over the world and it is honestly in those terrible times it is one of the things which keeps you going.
“I think all Ukrainian people feel the support from the whole world. We were in Prague with my grandmother and there was a Ukrainian flag’s hanging everywhere and I could just see from the mirror of the car she was sitting in the back and she was smiling so much because you could really feel welcome.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.