Vermonters with ties to Ukraine host rally

Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 10:16 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As Russia’s war on Ukraine escalates into its second week, Vermonters are standing in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Many with ties to the country gathered in Burlington Saturday.

“The homeland of my grandparents and my great grandparents is being destroyed,” said one speaker at the rally.

For some Vermonters, the ongoing war in Ukraine hits very close to home. From community members to state representatives, dozens gathered outside of Burlington’s City Hall Saturday afternoon.

“We are working on a resolution in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and every Russian standing in protest to this unprovoked aggression in my family’s homeland,” said Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, P-Chittenden District

Elias Nikitchyuk, a senior at Champlain College, organized the rally. He says the goal is to provide people here in the green mountain state the chance to have their voices heard.

“I know know that there are many other Ukrainians other than me in Vermont. Their family has gone through trauma inflicted by Russia over history, so we’re here to break that cycle of generational trauma,” he said. For Nikitchyuk, the connection to Ukraine dates back generations and still exists today.

His parents met while his American mother was studying abroad in Russia, before they both moved to the U.S. His father Andrei is originally from Crimea. He says constantly living in fear for his friends and family is heartbreaking.

“It’s sitting on pins and needles right now because you don’t know what news is going to come,” Andrei said.

Those here in Vermont honored their Ukrainian roots through poetry, song, and dance, and they’re encouraging Vermonters to do more for Ukrainians.

“You can donate money, you can donate medical supplies, you can donate clothes,” Nikitchuyuk said.

“When my friends see pictures of how the people in the world support Ukraine, it helps them. It helps them very much,” another speaker said.

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