Local professor leaves to help family resettle after fleeing Ukraine

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 7:27 AM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - As the Russian invasion continues in Ukraine, families in Middle Tennessee with ties to that region are worried sick about their loved ones. The family of one Clarksville man that News4 talked to over the weekend said his family has since been able to flee the country. The physics professor at Austin Peay State University said he is finally getting sleep at night knowing his family is out of Ukraine.

Dr. Andriy Kovalskiy’s three grandchildren and daughter are trying to start over in a new country. “They feel emptiness because of an unknown future,” Kovalskiy said.

News 4 first talked to Kovalskiy Saturday. He has been a U.S. citizen for more than a decade, and lives in Clarksville with his wife. His family, including his wife who was visiting their daughter in Ukraine, as well as their son-in-law, was hiding in their home in the city of Lviv. Kovalskiy said they constantly heard sirens and airstrikes. “Every day, 10 to 20 times, they had to go to the basement and back,” Kovalskiy said. “That is not a life, especially for a kid.”

Kovalskiy said he urged them to get out. They tried going to Poland, but Kovalskiy said the line was too long. Kovalskiy said around 2 a.m. this morning our time, the family was able to cross the border into Slovakia after a 20-hour wait. Kovalskiy just booked a flight to see them. “I am flying there tomorrow to help them start a new life,” Kovalskiy said.

Kovalskiy said they are staying in a hotel in Slovakia for now while he tries to find them more permanent housing. “I don’t know if it will be one week, two months or forever,” Kovalskiy said. “Nobody knows.”

Kovalskiy said that men aren’t allowed to leave Ukraine, but he said there are some exceptions. Kovalskiy said they allowed his son-in-law to leave since he has three young kids. His son-in-law is getting the family settled then plans to go back to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kovalskiy said he is going to the U.S. Embassy once he arrives in Slovakia to see if he can bring his family to the United States.

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