Chicago's Ukrainian community rallies against Russia's war with their homeland
CHICAGO - Residents of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood are condemning Russia’s invasion of their homeland and calling for an immediate end to it.
Amid the Russian military’s attacks on Ukraine, many community members are seeking solace – as they cope with feelings of heartbreak, anger, and anxiety for what’s to come.
Thursday evening, some parishioners turned to their place of worship – praying for peace during a service at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.
"The Ukrainian community here has always been united," said George Matwyshyn.
Outside the church, Matwyshyn helped place ribbons in the colors of Ukraine’s flag around trees.
"It’s a demonstration that, hey, we are here, we are supporting the people back there, and we’re asking the non-Ukrainians to help us out," said Matwyshyn.
Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil was held at Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church in Palatine.
Earlier in the day, a rally brought dozens of people together on the steps of Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church.
"This morning, our Ukrainian friends woke up to a different world, one in which they did not create," said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, (D) Illinois. "I think what’s important to recognize is so did we."
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With Ukrainian flags and signs in hand, those who attended the rally – many of whom still have family overseas – called for Russia to cease military attacks.
"Already scores of dead has come about as a result of this aggressive action. We’re here today to protest the war," said Pavlo Bandriwsky, vice president, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Illinois Division. "For centuries, Ukraine has lived under Moscow domination. They know what it’s like to live in Russia, to live with the Russian oppressor. They chose not to accept that. They chose to live according to western standards, democracy, freedom of speech, the right to have a great economic life and a life for their children and family."
They also called for sanctions harsher than what President Joe Biden announced earlier in the day.
"President Biden promised hard-hitting sanctions. He said, ‘Cross the red line, Putin, and we will make you pay.’ How much more Ukrainian blood has to be shed to make them pay? Now is the time, unleash the sanctions, stop the war. Stop Russia’s economy. Today, there must be action by the United Nations," said Bandriwsky.
Bandriwsky said another rally is planned for Sunday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. outside of Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church. Organizers are calling for all in support of Ukraine to attend.