Kharkiv resident reunited with father and city as Russians driven out and normality begins to return

Many residents returning to Kharkiv are starting to see something that has been absent for so long - hope.

Dan Rivers is reporting from Ukraine alongside News Editor Jonathan Wald. They are joined by the rest of our team on the ground Kenny Fillingham, Krystyna Fedosyeyeva and Max Olshyn.

Anasia Paraskevova's video diary documenting in harrowing detail her experience during the siege of Kharkiv has given her an unexpected degree of online celebrity.

She has received hundreds of messages from around the world.

Ranging from correspondence from India, offering her a place to stay, to offers of support from people in the US wanting to help Ukraine’s war effort.

Watch Anasia's videos from the early weeks of the invasion on life and escape from Kharkiv

Her honesty and eloquence in describing daily life in a war zone was unlike anything I’d seen before in this conflict, showing the daily struggle to find water and her searing anger towards the Russian forces inflicting nightly atrocities on this city of a million people.

We followed Anasia (who also goes by Anastasia) as she returned to her home city, reuniting with her father she hadn’t seen for two months.

It was an emotional meeting as she and her mother flung their arms around him in a moment of pure joy.

ITV News travelled with Anasia and her mother back into Kharkiv, after Russian forces were pushed out of the city. Credit: ITV News

We followed her as she went back to the apartment which was her refuge through the worst of times in the early weeks of the war.

Despite the considerable damage to flats nearby, Anasia’s was untouched.

I had the strange feeling of recognising it from the video diary.

Dan Rivers and his team travelled with Anasia back to her flat in Kharkiv

There was the hallway where she and her sister sheltered during the barrages of rockets, hoping their distance from any windows would ensure they weren’t showered with broken glass.

Here was the kitchen where she baked bread from rice flour, which was all they had.

And the table where they ate waffles and jam, until even the jam ran out. Watching the video diary back again, it feels even more moving having seen where each moment was captured.

Her frustration and fear has now been replaced with brimming optimism and energy.

Amazingly, despite the destruction across Kharkiv, Anasia's apartment remains in tact - just as she left it. Credit: ITV News

She is beginning to believe she’s lived through the worst of this war and finally she can restart a life put on hold.

Kharkiv will take years to come back to life, but the signs look good.

The centre is still quiet with most shops and restaurants closed, but it’s no longer unusual to see people out walking their dog or going for a bike ride. It feels like the whole place is stuck on a Sunday, waiting for the hustle of a Monday morning to return.

Despite the damage to her city, Anastasia is brimming with optimism and energy. Credit: ITV News

Until the threat of Russian attacks is permanently gone, I think many residents will be cautious about returning.

But Anasia is no ordinary citizen of Kharkiv and she is back to show her legion of new friends and supporters online that the siege of this city is broken.

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