“She loved every day of her life.” Family and friends pay tribute to Sasha Kuvshynova, Ukrainian journalist killed in Kyiv

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Her father, Andriy Kuvshynov, told CNN they always knew Sasha was a “talented girl” with a “love of life,” but the outpouring of messages from her wide circle of friends and colleagues helped for the family to get a broader picture of the 24-year-old.

“Several dozen people contacted us last week,” Kuvshynov said. “We learned a lot about her that we didn’t know as parents. We saw the kind of person she was.”

Among Sasha’s many passions were the media and journalism, which led to her working with a Fox News crew covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“What happened was a complete surprise, complete horror for us,” said his father, 59. “We couldn’t imagine that was possible.”

Before the war, Sasha led a busy life, immersed in the creative community of the Ukrainian capital and working on a series of diverse projects – from creating a music festival for up-and-coming jazz musicians to working as a DJ and writing poetry.

Sasha was also a gifted still photographer and developed an impressive portfolio that combined a range of disciplines including street photography, portraits and abstract work.

“Her biggest dream was to make films in modern formats, so she did both photography and screenwriting,” her father said. “She loved and wanted to make films herself and be a producer, learn in that direction. She had five cameras in the house.”

Fox News correspondent Trey Yingst worked with Sasha in Kyiv. He wrote a tribute message on Twitter saying, “She was talented, well-stocked and witty. She loved photography, poetry and music.”
Yonat Friling, a senior field producer for Fox, described her as “a brave beautiful woman” who was “funny and kind” and “did a brilliant job” working with their team.

“Thousands of talents”

Growing up, Sasha loved flowers, cats and her family; her father said she often made people laugh and did things “outside the box”. Fiercely intelligent, she learned to read at the age of three and learned English from restaurant menus when they were on a family vacation, he said.

Sasha's father, Andriy Kuvshynov, told CNN his daughter was

From an early age, she became a “person of great self-discipline” and “a person of great principles that she stood for”, he said. She also became fiercely independent, he said, adding that all of her success came from her hard work and energy.

“I can describe Sasha as a very nice person with thousands of talents,” said Akim Karpach, 24, who worked with her at Fusion, a community group that supports and develops jazz musicians. “She did everything to the fullest – she was 100% immersed in every friendship, hobby, job, etc. She was never indifferent.”

“She loved every day of her life and was happy every time I saw her,” he told CNN. “It seemed like Sasha knew a lot about life in this world and was always open to whatever it had to offer.”

Along with her other projects, Sasha worked as a personal assistant at Limelite, a Kyiv production house that makes advertising and music videos for artists and brands around the world.

“She was one of the brightest people I’ve ever met and she was really talented actually, she was a DJ, she knew music, she did cool film photography,” she told CNN. fellow Limelite Daria Uperenko, 23. “She was proactive, and she really believed in everything she did and put so much energy into it. She was really [a] very inspiring person.”

Friends and family of Sasha Kuvshynova say that she was passionate about photography, music and poetry.
Sasha is also committed to helping others, especially those who have suffered since the start of the war. She founded an organization called ua.life.delivery, bringing together volunteers from all over Kyiv to deliver humanitarian aid to citizens, medical organizations and soldiers.

“It’s hard to describe our pain, it’s hard to realize this happened,” ua.life.delivery said in a statement posted to its Instagram page. “She was the one who brought together the indifferent citizens of Kyiv and created @ua.life.delivery. Sasha has done a lot for our country and we want to continue her work,” he said. “Thank you, our brave friend.”

A close friend of hers, Ukrainian lawmaker Svyatoslav Yurash, saw Sasha a few days before her death in another friend’s apartment, where they chatted and ate the traditional soup, borscht. He said they first met 10 years ago at an English language camp and later dated before becoming friends.

“Her, I loved her. [A] decade of happiness and sadness, joy and pain, meaning and loss. Only death could have separated us,” Yurash, 26, wrote on Twitter.

Along with her work, during the war in Ukraine, Sasha created a group of volunteers to provide humanitarian aid.

She was “cheerful, but low-key,” he told CNN. “She didn’t party…her real personality was in the poetry.” She had eclectic musical tastes and he “always turned to her for musical advice,” he added.

Yurash said Sasha took a dream trip to Italy last summer, and “she came back very inspired, that she could live the way she wanted to live. Small towns, pizza, wine, great dates.”

An imagined future, made impossible by war.

‘Live for today’

“I am just one person, so many people in Ukraine are losing loved ones every day,” Yurash told CNN, urging the outside world to pay attention to recent events in his country. “Take care of Sasha, take care of Ukraine, take care of our struggle. Many more Sashas will perform in Ukraine if you don’t get involved in what matters.”

For Sasha’s grieving father, the loss of a daughter at such a young age prompted him to send a message to other parents about their relationships with their own children.

“Enjoy every minute you have,” he said. “You have to live for today.”

“Watch out for them,” he added. “Understand that these moments will never happen again.”

Sasha with her father Andriy.  In the wake of her death, he urged other parents to appreciate their time with their children.

Sasha’s family and friends now hold fond memories of their time together – and of the enduring beauty of Sasha’s work.

About six weeks ago, she wrote a poem in English which she posted for friends on Instagram – some of the last words written by a young woman whose talents endure for those who loved her.

This time
When all that’s left is
a touch between us
I see the sky ahead
more words for you
I have thousands of lives
To count the steps
What I will do for us
I cling to every moment
Your smile
Between my heart and the morning tea
Seconds blaze furiously
my heart is warm
The consonance sounds
Intermission.

Denys Otroshchenko contributed to this report.

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