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Vitaliy Chernyavskiy and his wife, Olena Tkacheva, moved to Kyiv from Zaporizhya four years ago to start a family in the city with big opportunities. Years of rapid economic growth convinced the family last year to buy the apartment they had been renting.

It looked like a safe bet then. The family was making $5,000 a month, comfortably middle class, and more than enough to cover the $1,800 mortgage payment.

Then everything went downhill fast.

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