Ukrainian women study crisis preparation and self-defense skills in Kyiv

Victor Kraevskiy demonstrates basic self-defense moves during hands-on training.
Victor Kraevskiy demonstrates basic self-defense moves during hands-on training. (Ivana Kottasova / CNN)

When Ukraine’s Women’s Guard put out an invitation for a survival and self-defense course, 700 women signed up. But the room at the Kyiv town hall where the training was scheduled to take place on Saturday could only hold up to 300 people, so more dates were added.

The women studied everything from how to pack an emergency bag, where to get necessary supplies and how to stop bleeding.

At one point, one of the instructors, Oleksandr Biletskiy, started talking about survival in a city that has been cut off from basic services, telling the attendees that now was the time to make plans with their neighbors.

“Decide how to divide tasks. Who will cook, who will take care of the elderly, who will be with the kids, ”Biletskiy, a military expert, said.

Natalia Skryabina said attending the course helped her to understand the kind of mindset she'd need in a crisis.
Natalia Skryabina said attending the course helped her to understand the kind of mindset she’d need in a crisis. (Ivana Kottasova / CNN)

He went into the importance of keeping good hygiene in field conditions: decide where the toilet will be, keep your trash in bags, and, in the worst case scenario, be prepared to bury the dead quickly. At one point, he said that in a crisis situation, burying people vertically can save space and time.

Natalia Skryabina, a 36-year-old animation artist, came to the training because she wanted to be prepared for a crisis situation, be it a natural disaster or a war.

“We can not predict what happens on the other side. Here in Kyiv, we still feel like we’re very far away from it, but people in the east are talking differently, because they have already experienced it, they know anything can happen, �� she said.

“Eight years ago, nobody expected that something like that could happen,” she said, referring to the war in the east and Russia’s decision to annex Crimea.

Around 240 women attended the survival training at Kyiv's town hall on Saturday.
Around 240 women attended the survival training at Kyiv’s town hall on Saturday. (Ivana Kottasova / CNN)

Skryabina said that after a friend told her about the course, she read notes made by people who had previously attended.

“But this taught me more about the way of thinking in crisis. How to be prepared and how to stay calm, ”she said, adding that she was using the training to make sure she was prepared for any eventuality. “I’m going to buy a fire extinguisher now,” she said.

During the hands-on self-defense training, two women practiced using their hands to avert a potential aggressor.

“Never make a fist. It does not work, you’ll break your fingers, use your palms, ”Victor Kraevskiy, one of the instructors, told the women assembled in the ornate hall.

Women attending the course look at items that might be useful in crisis situations.
Women attending the course look at items that might be useful in crisis situations. (Ivana Kottasova / CNN)

Yulia Kesaieva contributed to this report.

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