A couple from Eastern Iowa is keeping close tabs on developments in Ukraine. After weeks of violent protests that reportedly killed nearly 100 people, Ukraine has a new leader. On Sunday, parliament gave presidential power to its speaker.

Tatyana Kieler of Cedar Rapids lived in Ukraine until about 10 years ago and worries about friends and family who live near the heart of the crisis. “It’s just shock, you know? It’s like revolution in the country,” Tatyana said. Her niece lives in the capital city, Kiev. As soon as she saw news of the violence, Tatyana wanted to talk to the 29-year-old. “I immediately called because, first of all, I want to know if this is true or false. You know, how true is this information, now I understand this is true,” Tatyana said.

Tatyana’s husband, David, said her niece was afraid of going outside, as many people had guns. “We were watching where the snipers were shooting at demonstrators, it’s just horrible,” David Kieler said. Tatyana’s husband has visited Kiev with his wife since they married nine years ago. He said it’s “upsetting” to see the damage from all the street fighting on the news.

“Especially having been there and having stayed in the city and walked around downtown…you see the buildings and the monuments and all of the destruction. Really, it’s heartbreaking because it’s such a gorgeous city,” David said. Now, the couple said all they can do is simply keep in touch with family and friends in Ukraine. They’ll keep working at their jobs in Iowa, hoping the worst is over.

The couple said their friends who live in Kiev and Tatyana’s niece are all doing okay. On Sunday, they were also thrilled to hear reports that the scene in Ukraine had calmed down compared to the violence of last week.

(Reporting by Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids)