Imagine you are practicing your singing while your wife and children sleep. You finally go to bed around 1 a.m., only to be jolted awake a few hours later by the sounds of bombs and sirens going off outside your window. That is what 2015 winner of “The Voice of Ukraine,” Anton Kopytin, experienced at the end of February, 2022 when Russia began bombing the place he called home.
Kopytin and his wife, Olha, along with their three young children, Mark, 11, Yeva, 8, and Philip, 7, managed to escape the terror in a harrowing journey that eventually led them to Seattle, Washington in the USA. The Seattle Times relays their story in disturbing detail.
What It’s Like Going From ‘Voice’ Winner to Refugee
According to American Songwriter, Kopytin “sang Andrea Boccelli’s ‘Con te partirò’ for his audition for The Voice of Ukraine. Previously, he’d been working on construction during the day and practicing singing at night. Once he won, they were given an apartment in Kyiv and his career took off.”
Unfortunately, like much of the world, Kopytin’s career was put on pause due to COVID-19. Just as opportunities were beginning to open up again, the Russian invasion began.
The Seattle Times reports that Kopytin and his wife, after being awoken by “an explosion outside [which] set off a cacophony of car alarms,” gathered up their children and the five of them hid in the bathroom. In a video interview posted within the June 13, 2022 Seattle Times article, Kopytin explains, “we spent two days trying to hide in the zero level of our house.”
The Kopytins then spent 30 hours driving through the city trying to find safety. Alarms were sounding everywhere they went. They eventually found shelter in an underground bunker after their car broke down.
They were lucky enough to be able to borrow a car from a friend to continue their escape. According to The Seattle Times, “The children were told to select a favorite toy. Yeva chose a stuffed dog toy, Mark, his PlayStation, and Phillip put snacks, color pencils and books in his backpack.” Unfortunately, they had to leave the family cat behind, which had the children in tears.
The Kopytins fled their Kyiv home on February 26, and arrived in Poland on March 1. From Poland, they were able to get on a flight to Amsterdam and finally arrive in Seattle. But not before they “made several trips back to the border to deliver food and supplies to their fellow Ukrainians,” the Seattle Times reports.
What Lies Ahead for the Kopytins?
A lot of fearlessness, and a great deal of luck, got this family out of danger and into the Northwestern United States. They are hopeful for the future, but still have many obstacles to overcome. Kopytin told The Seattle Times, “We see the pictures in the news and we can’t understand, we don’t know the cities, the streets. Everything’s broken.”
This is actually not the ‘Voice’ winner’s first time being a refugee. In a 2015 interview with Ukraine Today, shortly after the singer’s victory was announced, Kopytin discussed his experience as refugee from war-torn East Ukraine. The chryon at the bottom of the screen reads “Refugee Success Story.” Kopytin tells the reporter how life went from a nightmare to a dream. Sadly, that dream turned into a nightmare once again when Russia bombed Ukraine in February.
According to the Seattle Times, “Despite a renewed sense of displacement, their spirit remains intact. Washington is a growing hub for Ukrainians and is the most preferred destination in the U.S. for resettling Ukrainian refugees. The warmth and kindness of this Ukrainian diaspora is helping them heal, said Anton.”