HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As the former Soviet state of Ukraine tries to preserve its independence, many of its immigrants who now call northern Alabama home continue to raise awareness to bring about change. Several dozen held a rally to raise awareness — and hope — Saturday afternoon at the Madison County Courthouse.
Lyudmyla Chappell came from Gadsden for the rally to show her support for her fellow Ukrainian Americans.
“We want America to do a lot more for (the Ukrainian military), but now it’s up to us and our government,” Chappell said. “And we want to tell them that we love them and support them here, and our hearts (are) with them.”
Everyone at the rally championed the same message: that local and national leaders help Ukraine stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. One participant identified as a Russian from St. Petersburg, ashamed of the actions of the Russian military and against the war.
Some of the Ukrainian-Americans present at the rally were just children, but well aware of what is happening in the world.
“Almost every day we heard gunshots in the streets and it was a bit difficult to walk outside after dark without being scared,” said Maiia Elliott-Ustymenko, 11, of Morgan County. , reminiscing about his life in the eastern region of Ukraine now controlled by Russia. separatists. “So when we moved here and we see things like this, we just want to help, you know?”
Olesia Bodnaruk of Huntsville brought her family to the freezing and rainy protest. She told News 19 she wanted to be brave for her mother, who chose to stay at their family’s home in western Ukraine.
“The Russians are trying to come and take our land so she said, ‘I’m going to stay. I’m going to do what I can to help the soldiers, so help whatever I can do,'” Bodnaruk said.
Roman Beregovski did the same.
“My son is standing up and saying, ‘I’m cold, dad,'” Beregovski said. “I’m like, ‘What do you think the children and Ukrainians are going through right now? You can stand a little longer. We have to stay up. We have to fight for that, and (joining protests) is what we can do right now here in this country. »
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