‘Bustier than Christmas’: Customers flock to Ukrainian restaurant in East Vancouver – BC

Iryna Karpenko’s restaurant in East Vancouver has never been so crowded.

It has been five days since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a violent and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and since then Karpenko has told every table in the Kozak-Restaurant have been reserved.

“It’s busier than Christmas and Easter, we have long lines,” Karpenko told Global News, while celebrating the 10th anniversary of his arrival in Canada from Kiev.

“We are pretty much exhausted from everything. We can’t be grateful enough for all the support – not necessarily Ukrainians, Russians who came to apologize. I feel bad, they shouldn’t apologize.

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‘We are alone here’: Vancouverite in Ukraine recalls chaos of escape from Kyiv

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of their own country to protest against the Kremlin’s act of war, which left hundreds of Ukrainian civilians dead.

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Thousands of British Columbians have also staged protests to show their solidarity with the Eastern European country, which is defending its independence against invaders.

Karpenko, meanwhile, struggles to fill all orders for meals and baked goods at the restaurant, and donates any tips received to charities supporting Ukraine.

“We are not there yet, so it is important for us to know that Ukraine is not alone. I feel bad because here. I’m just sending messages to anyone in Ukraine that you are supported,” she said.


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Additional negotiations and fighting on day 6 of the invasion of Ukraine


Additional negotiations and fighting on day 6 of the invasion of Ukraine

Karpenko and her husband Sergiy moved to British Columbia in 2012 and opened a bakery in 2014, selling their candies at farmers markets from Steveston to Whistler. They opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2015 and now have three locations.

Their family, however, remains in Ukraine, and Karpenko, in tears, said she fears for their safety.

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“The first few days I was sleeping, sitting (underground) in the parking lot,” she described. “They are all in Kiev… in the last hours they said it was a massive attack.”

Read more:

Canada to send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, improved ammunition: Trudeau

Some of Karpenko’s relatives live near Chernobyl in an occupied town about 30 minutes from Kiev.

“Many houses burned down. They have no water. They don’t have electricity,” she said. “My family was lucky to have batteries, which is how they charge their phones.”

Karpenko was able to reach some of her relatives, but she has not heard from her cousin, who has a nine-month-old child.

“My house, my village where I grew up is practically burnt down. Nothing is left.”


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The ordeal of a Vancouver resident in Ukraine


The ordeal of a Vancouver resident in Ukraine

Canada announced on Monday that it will send anti-tank weapons and improved ammunition to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Ottawa also plans to ban all imports of Russian crude oil — a commodity that Trudeau says has enriched Putin and the Russian oligarchs around him.

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Ukraine, meanwhile, has been asking to join the European Union since ceasefire talks with Russia on Monday in Belarus failed to yield any breakthrough.

As the humanitarian crisis unfolds and more than half a million people flee, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said the Federal Department of Immigration is expediting the processing of visa applications from Ukrainians already in Canada and from those who tried to enter.

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