January 28, 2023

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Back on screen after the drama

Back on screen after the drama

At the end of September, Gro Holm moved to Moscow to work as a correspondent for NRK in Russia. But the sanctions made moving to the Russian capital very complicated, and with heart problems in addition, it was a turbulent start to the period.

During a race at Gorkijparken on a Sunday in mid-October she fell ill. She became dizzy, short of breath, and had pain in her chest, as she described, and so she lay down on a park bench to rest a bit.

After a while I tried to run, but Holm felt that everything was not as it should be.

– It turned out to be some kind of heart attack. I was admitted to the hospital and the doctors said it was a heart attack. But she told Dagbladet by phone from the Russian capital.

This week she was seen on screen again, and last week she started working again.

She chose to walk the last few kilometers of her run, resting when she got home to the apartment. Then I went out for lunch.

On my way home I felt like I couldn’t walk all the way. I didn’t have enough breath. I got on the bus and people stopped and asked if I needed help, but I said no.

After speaking with the daughter, who is a medical student, the advice was clear: Go to the doctor.

– Absolutely absurd

The doctor’s appointment was booked for the next day, Holm had several interviews with Urix during the day, and in the afternoon, she had a cardiologist appointment.

– She did an ECG and ultrasound, said that I had a heart attack and wanted to admit me. She said laughing: I said I don’t have time for that.

Because of the suspected heart attack, the doctor wanted things to happen quickly. However, the sanctions regulations will have the matter differently.

– It took seven hours before I was actually accepted, due to insurance. As a result of the sanctions, they were unable to provide a guarantee. She said the hospital wanted NOK 240,000, adding:

– It was a completely absurd situation. The doctors said I should get help soon. They called the running crew, about which there was also a lot of discussion – because of the warranty. Fortunately, there was a wonderful doctor at work, and I convinced them it would work.

FLYTTELASS: Dagbladet met Holm at her home in Oslo when she was packing to go to Russia.  Photo: Shad Madian/Dagbladet

FLYTTELASS: Dagbladet met Holm at her home in Oslo when she was packing to go to Russia. Photo: Shad Madian/Dagbladet
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Shortly before 11pm on Monday night, everything turned out to be fine, and she was placed on the operating table.

After examining the contrast fluid, it became clear that it was not a heart attack after all, but a spasm caused by stress in the heart muscles – the so-called Takotsubo, a disease that mostly affects women over 60.

Holm was told that things would most likely return to normal, but he was nonetheless taken to hospital for two days of observation. Still go for checkups.

– I’m a 64-year-old woman on beta-blockers, she says, laughing out loud.

– It’s like walking with a handbrake. But I feel good now.

Four suitcases in Finland

Despite the fact that she has been in Moscow for two months already, parts of the moving load are missing. She described that there was a lot of “tension and control”, with everything getting over it.

– Most of the pressure is not the job itself, but all the management related to Russia is subject to sanctions. There was a lot of tension with customs and the actual moving around here.

– How did the transfer go, in general?

– It didn’t go well. Four suitcases remained in Finland, along with technical equipment and bulletproof vests. In Moscow they say everything is fine, but the local customs office in Vyborg decides.

The advice from the Vyborg customs area is that Holm must cross the border with equipment each time she renews her visa. It is now every three months.

– It simply doesn’t work. We are looking for other solutions. She says I will be back in Norway for Christmas.

After visiting the hospital in Moscow, she was at home in Norway for two weeks. Then I went to the hospital here, and I got six weeks sick leave.

Holm had barely returned home when the news arrived that large parts of the moving load would not be sent to Russia.

– There was a line on the bill. It says that the Norwegian Bank refused that the agency have any relationship with a European company that, in turn, cooperates with Russia.

Don't come with: A flak jacket is among what's left in Finland.  Photo: Shad Madian/Dagbladet

Don’t come with: A flak jacket is among what’s left in Finland. Photo: Shad Madian/Dagbladet
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– You had a large part of the resistance during the first period. Why is it important to be in Moscow?

– Obviously, it is important for me to be here, you answer immediately.

Russia is the main player in Europe’s worst war since World War II. Obviously, NRK must have a reporter here. I feel qualified to be here and find it very interesting. Although I cover a system of government that we may not like very much and criticize, it doesn’t make it any less interesting. Despite what is happening, I love Russia very much. There is a lot about this country Not Changes as a result of this war.

– I’m trying to watch TV

Holm describes the bustling cultural city of Moscow. Great restaurants, art, architecture and trendy theatrical performances. The biggest experience in her eyes is sitting inside watching TV night after night.

– There is a lot about Putin, both from meetings with other politicians and where he meets “ordinary people” – very smiling and friendly. Then there is a lot of Ukraine, especially Luhansk and Donbass. From the fighting going on from the Russian side, about how well they are doing, that they have enough food, ammunition, artillery, and warm clothes.

Holm’s job largely revolves around talking to the Russians about what’s going on. It is not that simple, in a country characterized by great censorship and state control.

Ukraine: Gro Holm was stopped by Russian guards live in Dajsryven on Saturday night. Video: NRC
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People are less willing to talk. But you’ve noticed that those who strongly agree with Putin and the leadership in the Kremlin – they’re talking. It is not difficult to get them to speak. But I have a feeling that when people think otherwise, they hesitate to talk to us. Someone we talk to on the phone, to see if we can interview them, says outright that there is, in practice, censorship in the country. “We dare not, we dare not,” they say. This makes it limited.

In a few weeks, Holm’s puppy will be home for Christmas. She became a grandmother for the first time, so celebrating Christmas in Norway is a matter of course. Early in the new year, she returned to Moscow.

– hopefully with more mobile load.