Eastern Iowa Couple Concerned About Family & Friends in Ukraine

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The future of Ukraine remains uncertain and worries are running high for an Eastern Iowa couple.

After weeks of violent protests that reportedly killed nearly 100 people, Ukraine has a new leader.

On Sunday, parliament gave presidential power to its speaker.

Lawmakers also voted to remove some government ministers, but it's questionable if their work was completely legal.

On Saturday, protestors took control of Ukraine's capital city of Kiev, and President Viktor Yanukovych was impeached, fleeing from the city.

Protestors had been fighting to end government corruption and human rights violations. Many want Ukraine to be more like the U.S. and Europe and move away from the former president's close ties with neighboring Russia.

For one woman who lived in Ukraine until about ten years ago, she has a lot of reasons to worry. She and her husband live in Cedar Rapids now, but they have friends and family who live near the heart of the crisis.

David and Tatyana Kieler spent their Sunday at work at Newbo City Market in Cedar Rapids, but behind their smiles is concern.

"It's just shock, you know? It's like revolution in the country," said Tatyana Kieler.

Tatyana's niece lives in the capital city, Kiev. As soon as she saw news of the violence she wanted to talk to the 29-year-old.

"I immediately called because, first of all, I want to know this is true or false. You know, how true this information, now I understand this is true," Tatyana Kieler said.

She explained that her niece was afraid of going outside. Many people had guns.

"Can you imagine if you live here in Cedar Rapids and everybody shooting on the outside, you know? And you will be scared," Tatyana Kieler said.

Tatyana said her niece recently spent time in the hospital for a back problem. Doctors and nurses reportedly told her to go home when the protests got out of hand because too many people rushed to the hospital with injuries.

"We were watching where the snipers were shooting at demonstrators, it's just horrible," said Tatyana's Husband David Kieler.

Tatyana's husband has visited Kiev with his wife since they married nine years ago. He said it upset him to see the damage from all the street fighting on the news.

"Especially having been there and having stayed in the city and walked around downtown. You see the buildings and the monuments and all of the destruction. Really, it's heartbreaking because it's such a gorgeous city," said David Kieler.

Now, the couple said all they can do is simply keep in touch with family and friends in Ukraine. They'll keep working at their jobs in Iowa, hoping the worst is over.

The couple said their friends who live in Kiev and Tatyana's niece are all doing okay. They plan to call them again on Monday.

On Sunday, they were also thrilled to hear reports that the scene in Ukraine had calmed down compared to the violence of last week.
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