A Russian businessman steps in to pay Ukrainian refugees’ hotel bills after the Home Office…
A Russian businessman who renounced his citizenship and moved his family to Ukraine after Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea has stepped in to pay hotel bills for refugees left behind by Ministry of Justice visa delays ‘Interior.
Peter Chernyshov, who ran Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile phone company, contacted two British families on Sunday after reading that they had to pay for hotels in Poland for Ukrainian refugees whose claims to join them in the UK had been delayed.
Mr Chernyshov, currently in Lviv in Ukraine, wired each of them £500 hours after reading the story in The Telegraph, saying he wanted to help the couple – both NHS workers – because he could afford it when they might not be able to.
He has also applied through the Homes For Ukraine program for his wife Lisa and youngest daughter Sima to come to Edinburgh, where he previously lived and worked as a senior executive at Carlsberg and Scottish and Newcastle brewers.
“I felt for them,” Mr. Chernyshov said. “The UK government is not doing what they promised and as a result the families ended up paying for the hotels. I found them on Facebook and replied to both of them saying I would pay.
Lauren Corbishley, an NHS mental health nurse, has so far spent £1,000 on hotel bills for Yuliia Meshchierriakova, her partner Glib and her daughter, Maryna, 17, who fled Kharkiv when the war started . “I’m very grateful to him,” she said.
Sarah Ockelton, an NHS dietary practitioner assistant whose sponsored Ukrainian refugee, Nataliya Nikolaienko, had to find herself homeless in Poland at the end of her free accommodation on Tuesday, said: “What a nice man. I am in shock. This is fantastic news.
Mr Chernyshov, from Yekaterinburg in the Urals, said he and his family took Ukrainian citizenship after Putin invaded Crimea in 2014. He had first come to Ukraine as part of a contract with Carlsberg in 2006.
He said the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February, was “absolutely unprovoked” and irrational, adding; “It’s like a war between two cultures – brutal medieval versus modern, European democracy.
“And on the side of Ukraine, it is now a great patriotic war in which everyone is taking part. I have yet to see anyone over the age of 15 who is not contributing in some way to the war effort.
Mr Chernyshov is helping five Ukrainian families connect with British sponsors in Edinburgh, where he still owns a home, as part of Homes For Ukraine. He was also closely involved in the transfer of 52 children from Dnipro orphanages to temporary homes in Scotland.
His son, Kirill, studied at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh before graduating from Cornell University. Her eldest daughter, Kate, studied at Fettes College in Edinburgh.
He said he believed that while it was right to carry out security checks on host families, he believed that checks on refugee families and children could be carried out after arrival.
“Most of these families are in Poland in very difficult conditions and they are afraid,” he added. “It’s a standard bureaucratic problem when no one wants to take personal responsibility.”