Indian chess player Anwesh Upadhyaya stuck in Ukraine, says situation is scary

The 30-year-old, who is doing an apprenticeship in gastroenterology in a Kiev hospital, had planned to return to India in March. But with Russia launching military operations on Thursday, flights have been suspended and he is unsure what to expect.

The 30-year-old, who is doing an apprenticeship in gastroenterology in a Kiev hospital, had planned to return to India in March. But with Russia launching military operations on Thursday, flights have been suspended and he is unsure what to expect.

Alone in his apartment and all scared, former Indian national rapid chess champion Anwesh Upadhyaya is one of many compatriots stranded in Ukraine amid a Russian invasion and desperately hoping to be evacuated from the country that has been his home since 2012.

The 30-year-old, who is doing an apprenticeship in gastroenterology in a Kiev hospital, had planned to return to India in March. But with Russia launching military operations on Thursday, flights have been suspended and he is unsure what to expect.

“I didn’t expect this escalation. It’s a full-scale military invasion. Never imagined this,” said the 2017 national rapid chess champion. PTI from Kyiv.

At a press conference on Thursday, Indian Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla assured all Indian citizens in Ukraine that the government would take all measures to bring them back safely.

He said there were about 20,000 Indians in Ukraine and among them, nearly 4,000 have returned to India in recent days.

Mr Upadhyaya said he saw unrest in the country, recalling student protests in 2013 against then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision not to sign a deal that would have brought Ukraine closer to the European Union.

But he acknowledged that was nothing compared to the chaos that has unfolded over the past few days.

“I was present during the Maidan revolution which was bad but not so scary,” Upadhyaya said, describing the current situation.

“My parents in India are very worried and that’s why I planned to leave in the first week of March,” he added of his Bhubaneswar-based family.

“They call me constantly, as do some of my school teachers. I’m here in my apartment alone. And I don’t know what awaits me. The attack happened all of a sudden. So , I couldn’t have done anything.”

Mr Upadhyaya said he tried to leave Ukraine earlier but was unable to get plane tickets, adding that he got permission from his bosses to leave once the Tensions escalated and it became clear that a showdown was on the cards.

He said he was now awaiting instructions from the Indian Embassy in Ukraine.

“Yes, I hope this madness will stop and I am awaiting instructions from our embassy.

“For now, they (the embassy) are taking appropriate measures to ensure a safe evacuation, but we must not ignore that this situation is also difficult and surprising for them. So we are waiting patiently,” said Mr. .Upadhyaya.

“The Indian Embassy asked people to stay inside and not go out. In the meantime, they gave the location of the bomb shelters if necessary and asked us to keep in touch via the Official page.” Mr Upadhyaya had managed to buy basic necessities once tensions started to rise and he said everything he needed to support himself at the moment.

“Actually, I managed to buy the essentials, as the local news suggested a week ago. So with that, I’m good. I’m more worried if war comes to residential areas. There always has collateral damage,” he said.

Regarding electricity and water supply, Mr. Upadhyaya, who moved to Ukraine in 2012 to pursue medical studies following a suggestion from his trainer (Georgy Timoschenko), said: “until ‘Now everything (electricity and water supply) is working well by the grace of God. He last competed in a standout event about two months ago in the town of Vinnytsia in central-western Ukraine and finished first.

But the doctor, who has an ELO rating of 2352 (the rating points in chess), is out of his mind now and just wants to go back to India.

“I hear distant explosions,” he signed, sitting in distant Kiev, hoping for better times.

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