The threat of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine forced many diplomats and foreign missions to move from the capital to Lviv. Since December, Kyiv citizens and residents of other cities of Ukraine have been actively moving to the city. And real estate prices, according to realtors, have already grown by 15%.
– For the third month, people from all over Ukraine have been actively moving to Lviv. They say that so many people from Kyiv came here that it's time to call Lviv the second capital.
– Today we can definitely say that a lot of diplomats have come to Lviv. In particular, the Embassies of the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Denmark have lodged their embassies in the city. A lot of diplomats from other Embassies also arrived, while the first leaders remain in Kyiv.
First of all, we are grateful to the diplomats for staying in Ukraine. Secondly, I think that this relocation is temporary and they will soon return to our capital. But a lot of them start thinking about opening a consulate general in Lviv, and I can only welcome it.
– And yet, many ordinary people came from all over the country. How did this impact city life?
– So far, we have not seen any anomalous activity. Lviv usually receives a lot of guests in different months. And now there is normal activity in relation to hotels and hostels.
– According to realtors, people not only relocate temporarily, as a result of which rent has increased, Ukrainians from different cities are actively considering buying a house permanently.
– Housing in Lviv is often bought by Ukrainian citizens living in different cities. And by those who work abroad very often but want to return to Ukraine and choose Lviv for this. That is why there is activity. But there always has been one. There may be a higher demand now than usually given the security concerns.
– Can Lviv be called a safe city today in terms of emergency situations?
– If all the main embassies have moved here, then they consider the city safe. We are constantly working to improve the level of security at different levels.
Lviv was, is and has always been a safe city, and we invest a lot of money in networks, infrastructure, and communications.
Last year we started a big project together with the British Embassy. We are developing the so-called "resilience residence", an indicator of the city's resilience to various extraordinary, emergency situations. The city's leadership was also trained in York. Because people in our country are afraid to foresee bad events. And we expect them and prepare for them. This gives greater confidence to the city.
– Is the municipal sector ready for a large influx of guests?
– Now we have prepared the city for living in an extreme situation. In particular, we can supply water to Lviv in the total absence of electricity—this refers to a sanitary volume.
We also have a three-month reserve of medicines, and we have purchased enough diesel generators. There is a large fuel reserve. That is, we prepared for living in extreme conditions. And, of course, it gives us more confidence in the future.
– How many people is Lviv ready to host in case of an emergency?
– First, we must think about how to protect our cities and our country. But we really need to be ready to help each other. Today we have very close coordination between the cities of Western Ukraine, the cities of the Lviv region. Each city has its own evacuation plans.
Speaking of Lviv, we are ready to host about 100,000 people in normal mode, a maximum of 200,000 people.
Speaking of the Lviv region, then with the help of the state it is possible to accommodate up to 1 million people. Speaking of the whole of Western Ukraine, in total, I think we can talk about 3 million—provided that we work hard on it.
– In what form can it be?
– As everywhere else, all studies stop during emergencies in Lviv. There are a lot of students in the city who live in dormitories and rent accommodation in hostels. Of course, this is an extraordinary burden on the city. But you understand that anything can happen in this world today.
We already have the experience of 2014 when the city hosted about 10,000 guests from the occupied territories—Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea. Therefore, we are preparing for such cases on the basis of our previous experience.