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Ukrainians in New York Mark One Year of the War

TRICIA STORTZ, HOST: Tomorrow marks the one year commemoration of Russia’s full scale invasion on Ukraine. Over the past year, 8 million Ukrainians have fled their country. And despite billions of dollars of foreign support in the war, Ukraine still hasn’t regained its sovereignty. Ukrainians in New York are asking for moral support as they continue to protest the conflict from afar. Elizabeth Erb reports from the East Village.

ELIZABETH ERB, BYLINE: Even a year after the war began, signs of solidarity still line the walls of Veselka, a popular restaurant in Little Ukraine. “Our hearts beat for Ukraine” and “Stand With Ukraine” hang proudly underneath the string of blue and yellow flags. Vitalii Desiatnychenko is a manager here. He was working at Veselka when the invasion began. Desiatnychenko was shocked the war was really starting and went home to call his parents who were still in Kiev.

VITALII DESIATNYCHENKO: I couldn’t believe, realize, and accept what was happening. I felt like, my brain felt like roasted potatoes. I was physically present here but mentally I was in Ukraine.

ERB: It took him a while to accept the reality. But now, a year later he wants people to understand this conflict is about more than just two countries.

DESIATNYCHENKO: Yeah, I think it’s bigger concern of the whole world. fighting terrorism and fighting for humanity right and fighting for the peace of the whole world.

ERB: Aleksandr Krapivkin is doing just that. He’s co-organizing rallies across 65 US cities this week. Krapivkin works for an organization called Klych that hopes to raise awareness of the continued war.

ALEKSANDR KRAPIVKIN: Our rallies are not only for Ukrainians. Our rallies are for Americans. A some point your money runs out. Right? At some point you can’t help financially. The only way you can is morally.

ERB: He’s organizing these protests because he knows first hand how these conflicts impact people. His family fled Ukraine because of religious persecution twenty years ago.

KRAPIVKIN: One morning we woke up and there was a Star of David in tar on our door. Overnight somebody had marked our house like the Jews live there.

ERB 6: His family made it safely to the US, but many of his relatives are still in Ukraine. And when the invasion happened, he felt he needed to get involved.

ERB: A year ago, what did you think you'd be doing this week?

KRAPIVKIN: Oh gosh, oh. February 23. Because it was February 23. When at 11pm, around then, I was going to sleep getting ready to wake up really early to like go manage a medical clinic. That week, everything changed drastically.

ERB: And for Krapivkin, the one year anniversary is a chance to remind people that Ukrainians are still asking for solidarity in this conflict. Tonight one year later he’s headed to a candle vigil at the Russian consulate in New York. Events are planned throughout the city the rest of the week. Elizabeth Erb, Columbia Radio News.


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