“We must have peace in Ukraine”

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE – Hundreds of people gathered in the Ukrainian Village on Thursday to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and call for a stronger response from Western governments against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Holding Ukrainian flags and signs reading “Stop Putin” and “Stop the war,” protesters chanted “US supports Ukraine” and sang songs in Ukrainian.

Priests from the Ukrainian Catholic churches of Saints Volodymyr and Olha and Saint Nicholas, two longtime community anchors in the neighborhood, led the crowd in prayer and song.

Russian forces began invading Ukraine early Thursday, according to news reports. Russian troops were closing in on Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on Thursday evening, according to The New York Times.

Chicago has one of the highest populations of Ukrainians in the United States, with 100,000 people living in the city and suburbs, and about 10,000 in the Ukrainian Village, according to NPR.

Organizers of Thursday’s rally pushed for tougher sanctions on Russia and encouraged people to help with humanitarian efforts for Ukrainian citizens.

“Let go of the sanctions. Stop the war. Shut down the Russian economy today. The UN must act. They must stop this Russian aggression. Remove Russia from the United Nations Security Council,” said Pavlo Bandriwsky, vice chairman of the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of the Americas Division of Illinois.

“We need to have peace in Ukraine, and that can only happen with the support of the West and the United States of America.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Supporters gather as priests say a prayer during a rally in support of Ukrainian sovereignty at the Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukrainian village on February 24, 2022.

Speaking at the rally, US Representative Mike Quigley described the Russian invasion as “not just a Ukrainian problem”, but a threat to democracy around the world.

“The reason I bring up all of this is not to diminish the horrors that our Ukrainian friends are going through, but to wake up the Americans, that they have to play a part. They have to understand the sacrifices that will be involved and that we have to give Ukraine all the military means they need for final victory,” he said.

Many Ukrainian Americans who gathered Thursday described feelings of shock, confusion, anger and fear, especially for those who have family members living in Ukraine.

“We all thought there was going to be a war, people in Ukraine, I don’t think, thought that. But when we heard it last night, we called each other, we couldn’t believe it. I mean, really, it was awful,” said Lydia Tkaczuk, president of the Ukrainian National Museum, 2249 W. Superior St.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Lydia Tkaczuk during a rally in support of Ukrainian sovereignty at Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukrainian village on February 24, 2022.

Ukrainian Village residents and DePaul students Stepan Marchuk and Daniel Zablotskiy both have family in Ukraine. They said they skipped class today to attend the rally.

“You can learn you can always learn things that you missed in class, but I mean, times like these, sticking together, that’s the least we can do,” Marchuk said.

Zablotskiy’s mother, sister and brother currently live in Ukraine, and he said his father hoped to travel to the country to fight against the Russians.

“My dad this morning he was like, ‘I’m going to go back.’ I’m like, ‘you have absolutely no way to get there,’ he said. “My mom is in Ukraine right now. … She called me and said, ‘Hide it. your father’s passport.’ I know my dad, he would.

Marchuk said so far he didn’t feel the Russian invasion was recognized with enough urgency by the US government or its residents.

“I feel like a lot of the information they get, they sort of ignore it. And I feel like there needs to be more education and more information presented to the American public about what’s really going on,” he said.

Stepan Marchuk and Daniel Zablotskiy during a rally in support of Ukrainian sovereignty at the Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukrainian village on February 24, 2022.

Nadiya Ilkiv, who has family in western Ukraine, traveled to the rally from her home in the Palatine suburb. She said she had “cried all night” since learning the invasion had started. She fears that the war is only the beginning of a much larger conflict.

“Russia is very strong. Putin is crazy now. He becomes crazy. … He won’t stop, he will go to Europe,” she said. “If the United States doesn’t help, I think it will be so bad.”

“Americans need to understand, Putin is like Hitler. This is no small war in Ukraine. He left Ukraine, he goes everywhere. If the United States does not stop Putin, or if he does not die, it will be a big war,” she said.

Jefferson Park resident Serge Malachuk, whose brothers and extended family live in Ukraine, said he has been organizing online fundraisers for the Ukrainian military in recent months. He also traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress to intervene in the dispute.

Malachuk said he is also a firearms expert and plans to travel to Ukraine to train people to defend themselves. He said he had friends who were fighting against the Russians right now.

“They are soldiers over there. I could not speak with them. But yeah, they’re fighting right now, they’re resisting, and it looks like it’s going to be like a long, long guerrilla war,” he said.

The war, Malachuk said, “is going to have global repercussions, and Ukraine is on the front line right now. So the Ukrainians are sacrificing their lives and the soldiers there are brave and they are ready to die. for their country.

Another rally is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday outside Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, 739 N. Oakley Blvd.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Serge Michaluk during a rally in support of Ukrainian sovereignty at the Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukrainian village on February 24, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Supporters gather during a rally in support of Ukrainian sovereignty at Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukrainian village on February 24, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ulyana Dmytriv attends a rally in support of Ukrainian sovereignty at the Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukrainian village on February 24, 2022.

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