St Johnstone winger Max Kucheriavyi has detailed the ordeals facing family and friends he has been in touch with in his native Ukraine.
The 19-year-old’s family have fled their home after Russia invaded his country while he has been in contact with a fellow footballer whose team are stuck inside their training ground with no power or aid.
In an interview with his club’s Saints TV, Kucheriavyi, who is on loan with Kelty Hearts, said of his family: “They had to leave their home in Kyiv and they moved, not too far, but still to a safer place. Fortunately they had a chance to leave Kyiv but loads of people didn’t have the chance.
“I know people who have to sleep in bunkers, who don’t have heating or electricity and in some areas they don’t even have any internet or phone connection so they can’t get in touch with their families.
“I am in touch with (my family) all day long and in touch with a lot of people back home from different areas and cities in Ukraine, even in touch with a lot of Ukrainian people in Poland who do a lot of volunteer stuff to help women and kids cross the border.
“I’ve got friends from east Ukraine and one of my big friends is from Mariupol city, which is close to Donetsk. In Mariupol it’s a humanitarian catastrophe now. Fortunately my friend could leave the city but his family is still there and they get in touch with him very, very rarely because they just don’t have any internet.
“My other friend is stuck in the training ground with his team-mates and they don’t have any heating or electricity and it’s very hard to get them any humanitarian aid because they just don’t want to stop shooting people.
“It’s just so, so hard for them to provide any help but hopefully it can stop soon and the government can arrange some corridors for civilians.”
Kucheriavyi praised his employers for their support and admitted it was hard to concentrate on football, but that the game was also a release.
“I’m concerned with everything that is going on back home, sleeping much less than I normally do, but can’t and won’t complain,” said the teenager, who has helped raise more than #5,000 to support charities helping Ukrainian people.
“Football is the only thing, when I can get away from my home, to stop me thinking about the war back home.”
The player expressed his gratitude for support for his country within Scotland and also his pride in his country’s response.
“To be fair, I have always been proud to be Ukrainian but I feel the country is more united than it’s ever been,” he said.
“The Ukrainian people all over the world just try to help as much as they possibly can.
“I believe that now we are stronger than we have ever been. When it stops we will be even stronger and we will build the best Ukraine, we will build our future.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish football authorities have instigated a blackout of coverage of their games in Russia.
A statement read: “The Scottish FA and Scottish Professional Football League can confirm they have instructed their respective broadcast partners to suspend feeds of all domestic league and cup competitions in Russia for the foreseeable future, in light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“As a result, there will be a blackout of Scottish Cup fixtures from this weekend’s quarter-finals and from all SPFL competitions including cinch Premiership, cinch Championship, Premier Sports Cup and SPFL Trust Trophy.”
England’s top leagues suspended their Russian broadcast deals on Tuesday.
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