After crash, Austinites with ties to Russia and Ukraine react

A decoration in the Russian House NaZdorovye in Austin. (Kevin Schwaller)
A decoration in the Russian House NaZdorovye in Austin. (Kevin Schwaller)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Russian and other cultures of the region live at the Russian House NaZdorovye in downtown Austin.

It lives in decorations on the walls, it lives in the recipes, and in the language.

“We actually think of ourselves as the little island of Russia or the USSR countries,” said Varda Gribkova, who runs the business with her husband.

Varda says she was born in Crimea and grew up in Moscow. She says the current conflict is weaved with history, culture and language mesh in the region, and it can complicate understanding of the issues.

The newspapers in the restaurant from back home don’t yet bear the headlines about the crash.

“Those were completely innocent people that had nothing to do with the conflict,” said Varda.

Varda says the staff — from different countries — stays away from talking politics, while still thinking about family overseas.

“It was kind of stressful for us, especially for me because all my family (is) [in Ukraine]. I am the only one who is here. But what you can do,” asked Viktoriia Papchenko a manager at Russian House.

“We all have differing opinions. We’re thousands and thousands of miles away from our homes and we’re family here now,” Varda said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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