The Observers

Ukrainian TikToker documents her family's escape from Mykolaiv

TikToker Diana Totok documented her journey from Ukraine to Romania after the Russian invasion began.
TikToker Diana Totok documented her journey from Ukraine to Romania after the Russian invasion began. © Observers

Diana Totok, a 19-year-old Ukrainian, has racked up millions of views on TikTok after posting videos that documented her leaving her hometown of Mykolaiv after the Russian invasion began.

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Mykolaiv, a key port city in the south of Ukraine, has been the target of fierce attacks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. When the bombardments began at 5 am that day, Totok was having a sleepover at a friend's house.

When I got back home, I saw my mum and my sister packing up and they said that we're going somewhere, we didn't know where.

Her videos on TikTok show how she and her family left their home, just hours before Russian troops entered Mykolaiv. Totok, her mother and her sister left their pets and all their belongings to seek refuge in Romania. 

We drove for 14 hours and then we had to walk to the border for another hour because there was a lot of traffic.

One heart-wrenching video shows Totok saying goodbye to her father at the border. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not permitted to leave Ukraine during wartime. 

After she arrived in Romania, volunteers accompanied Totok and gave her food and supplies.