Russia-Ukraine crisis: Ukrainian and USSR Olympian stranded in UAE gets medical help

Larisa Strotskaia had represented USSR in the 1972 Olympics

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 10:57 AM

Last updated: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 12:08 PM

A Ukrainian citizen, who is also a former Olympian, stranded in the UAE as a refugee has received medical support to undergo a bilateral total knee replacement surgery.

Sixty-eight-year-old Larisa Strotskaia had represented erstwhile USSR in the 1972 Olympic, has been struggling with severe and debilitating pain as her condition of osteoarthritis in both knees worsened recently. She has now undergone surgery at Aster Hospital, Qusais, which has offered her medical and financial support.


“Her condition had aggravated so much that she could not walk, sit or lie down without pain. Her legs had swollen, and there was no option but to undergo a bilateral total knee replacement surgery,” said her husband, Boris Eremeev.

Larisa had come to Dubai along with Eremeev in December but could not return to Ukraine due to the war.

“We had come here to meet our children and grandchildren. We were planning to go back to Ukraine in March. But things turned upside down for us in this short time. We are now refugees here in the UAE. We do not have a country to go back to; Ukraine is at war with Russia,” said Larisa.

Fighting the pain for several years

Larisa has been fighting the pain in her knees for several years now. An athlete, she has been continuously and rigorously engaged in physical exercises to combat the condition.

“I used to swim, do Pilates, and engage in other physical exercises to keep myself strong and derive the strength to bear the pain. My doctor had also advised me to stay active,” she said.

But the condition had worsened tremendously in the recent months. “I tried everything from taking pain killers to injections to doing physiotherapy to get some relief from the pain. But nothing was helping me. With each passing day, the pain increased,” added Larisa.

A refugee with no insurance

“We are now refugees here in the UAE without money and insurance,” says Boris. “The UAE government has granted special approval for us to stay in the country for a year. Our children are supporting us with food and shelter. But we cannot ask them for more,” he added.

When Larisa’s condition worsened, the couple checked with various hospitals. But the cost of the surgery was too much for them to afford. “We had come with some money to spend a short vacation with our children and grandchildren. Now we do not have any money with us. We are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Neither could we afford the cost of the surgery here in Dubai, nor could we go back to Ukraine,” explained Boris.

Ukraine consulate connects with Aster Hospitals

The couple knocked on the doors of the Ukrainian mission in Dubai for help. “The officials at the Consulate helped us get in touch with Aster Hospitals. The management was kind enough to offer us the treatment and support us with the cost of the surgery,” said Larisa.

Walked on the same day post-surgery

Larisa underwent preliminary check-ups at the hospital and the doctor confirmed that she requires a total knee replacement surgery. According to Dr Raghavendra K Siddappa, specialist orthopaedic surgeon, her knees had worn out.

“Osteoarthritis had affected her knees badly. She had been fighting the condition for a few years now. Surgery was the only viable option to get her relief from pain,” said the doctor.

Larisa underwent bilateral total knee replacement surgery on Monday. “It was a complex surgery, and it took four hours to complete the procedure. Post-surgery she had done well and started walking on the same day. We will continue monitoring her condition and proceed with physiotherapy for a few more days,” added Dr Raghavendra.

The couple hopes the war will end soon

“We are profoundly thankful to all those who have helped us during the tough time of our lives. Especially Aster Hospitals and Dr Raghavendra for their exceptional support and care during our stay at the hospital,” said Larisa.

The couple hopes that the war will end soon and that they can go back to Ukraine.


“We have no idea of the actual situation in Kyiv now where we are based. Our family and friends there have fled the country to neighbouring places.

“We even do not know whether our apartment is still there. The war is getting intense. It is a 50:50 chance for us. But we hope to return to our country soon once the war ends,” said Larisa and Boris..

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