Two Ukrainian women – a volunteer medic and an airwoman – were left on the side of the highway following a dispute triggered by their request to turn off a Russian television show playing in the bus they were traveling on.
Yaryna Chornohuz, a volunteer medic from the Hospitallers battalion, and aerial scout Nastya Konfederat were riding on the Lutsk-Kyiv route on the evening of January 27 when the dispute occurred.
“When I went up and politely asked to turn off the Russian TV program, the driver refused. I argued that I had recently returned from the front, and in February am returning again, and it’s disgusting for me to have to sit and hear the whole night a television production of the occupiers,” said Chornohuz.
She added that the driver required her to get a consensus from the majority of the passengers.
“I returned and told everyone everything, and asked if it's really important for them to watch this Russian show, and offered to turn it off. Some lady attacked us, who was traveling from Italy, and said that she doesn’t care what language its in and that we’re murderers, that we’re traveling to a war that she didn’t send us to. The rest of the bus was silent. I reminded them that I was returning from my boyfriend’s funeral – a soldier – and defended their right to freely travel on Ukraine’s unoccupied streets, but I was met with silence and guilty looks,” said Chornohuz.
Her friend, Nastya Konfederat, turned on the camera on her phone and recorded a bit of the discussion, but the driver knocked the phone out of her hands.
Chornohuz said that the driver ignored a request from the dispatcher of the bus company to turn off the TV show, and in the end, both girls were forced to stop the bus and exit onto the highway.
“[The other passengers] led by the driver agreed to dump us two, a volunteer medic and air scout, adult mature people, Ukrainian citizens, in the middle of the highway so that they could continue comfortably watching their Russian TV show,” noted Chornohuz.
In a comment to hromadske, Busfor, the company who had sold the bus tickets to the girls, said that they were not aware of any conflict and that they were simply middle-men. The bus company itself commented that the driver would be fired as soon as possible, and that the passengers would get their money back.
“This is the first situation of its kind with our drivers. We’re very hurt, and of course, we apologize for his behavior. This driver will no longer have a career in our company, as soon as he returns from his route,” said a company representative.