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Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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At Prague train station, Russians and Ukrainians volunteer together to help refugees on July 20.
At Prague train station, Russians and Ukrainians volunteer together to help refugees on July 20. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

The shift was long over, but she wasn’t ready to leave. Not until the Ukrainian refugee family she had been helping was safely on a train.

Donning a pink vest and switching seamlessly between Ukrainian, Russian and Czech languages, she is one of the Iniciativa Hlavák (Main Station Initiative) volunteers assisting refugees at the main rail station in Prague.

She gives people directions, helps with train tickets and passes on crucial information about where to get help. Volunteering is her way of “doing something,” she told CNN.

“I am not Ukrainian,” she said quietly. “I am Russian.”

“We need to do something about this,” she added. “Nobody [in Russia] is listening when we speak up, but at least here I can do something.”

The volunteer asked for her last name not to be published because of concerns over her safety.

“I don’t know what kind of law is coming next in Russia. I could be called a foreign agent for helping Ukrainians, and if I want to go back to Russia to visit my parents’ grave, it may be a problem,” she said.

A fellow volunteer Maksym Bobrov has similar motivations for helping at the train station.

The 23-year-old is originally from Kryvyi Rih in Ukraine, but has been living and studying in Prague for the past six years.

“I need to do something. I read the news every day, and every day I hope my hometown will not be struck,” he said, recounting a recent journey by a family member through the site of a deadly attack in Vinnytsia.

“They left the square where it happened just minutes before the hit,” he said.

During one three-hour-long shift last week, Bobrov helped countless people.

When a humanitarian train heading to the Polish town of Przemysl pulled in, he was on hand to help dozens of people — mostly women with children — with bags, standing next to the train and lifting a suitcase after suitcase.

He is not going home anytime soon, having been recently reunited with his mom, who joined him in Prague.

“When she hears a plane, she gets up and starts panicking. I have to assure her it’s just a normal plane, not a fighter jet,” he said.

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