Hundreds march, rally in central Phoenix to support Ukraine, end Russian invasion
by Haleigh Kochanski
Hundreds of members and supporters of the Ukrainian community in Phoenix gathered Sunday to march in support of Ukraine’s independence and demand an end to Russia’s violent attacks on the country.
People began assembling at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in the area of Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road at noon to prepare signs for the march.
“The freedom march is to support Ukraine, get heavier sanctions now, urge everybody to stop buying Russian oil and gas, and basically to get Putin out of Ukraine,” said Vera Hoerner, secretary with the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. “There is no reason for this to be happening. Ukraine did not provoke anybody.”
“I have friends and cousins, my father, sisters, nephews. I talk with my sister every day. They’re just terrified, worried and scared,” Nava said.
Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday. Ukraine’s health minister reported Saturday that 198 people, including three children, had been killed, and more than 1,000 others were wounded.
On Sunday, Russian troops entered Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and fighting is underway in the streets, according to the Associated Press. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly scheduled an emergency session Monday on Russia’s invasion.
March-goers were encouraged to wear blue and yellow to mimic the colors of the Ukraine flag and carry signs in support of the country’s independence. As the parking lot began filling up with people, members of the community began singing the Ukrainian national anthem.
“I’m from Ukraine. Right now I’m attending university here. Almost my entire family stayed in Ukraine,” said Ivan Doroshenko, a student studying at Arizona State University. “I was really worried the past few days because when everything started and I hear the news about the bombardments and everything, I’m really worried about my family. So I always call them and check if they’re fine.”
The march began at the cultural center just after 1 p.m. Phoenix police officers were present to guide marchers down the sidewalk along Seventh Avenue to where demonstrators gathered at Colter Park, just north of Camelback Road.
Dozens of people driving by honked their horns at marchers holding signs with phrases like “I stand with Ukraine,” “Arizona for Ukraine,” and “Stop the bloodshed.”
“We’re very concerned with what’s happening in Ukraine,” said Raymond Badynskyj, treasurer at Ukrainian Orthodox Church St. Mary’s Protectress. “It’s to let people know that what is happening there, we’re in solidarity. We hope that somehow this will make a difference. If nothing else, it’s a way for us to express our frustration with what is happening. Pray for Ukraine.”
According to St. Mary’s Protectress Church, the objectives of the march were to demonstrate unity in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, to demand an end to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and to advocate the release of all Ukrainian citizens unjustly imprisoned by Russia.
‘I’ve never been so ashamed of being Russian’
“I’m Russian and I think that what is happening between Russia and Ukraine right now is absolutely horrible. I can’t believe that this has happened,” said Kseniia Mikhailovskaia, who attended the march. “I am here to stand with Ukraine, to support Ukraine and show that I am in solidarity with Ukrainians.”
“Honestly it’s been very stressful the last couple of days because at this point, I don’t know when I am going to be able to see my family and go back home,” Mikhailovskaia added. “I want the rest of the world to know that Russian people feel horrible about this and honestly, I’ve never been so ashamed of being Russian as I am now because this is not what we want. Russians want peace and this is only the actions of the mad president that we’ve had for years.”
The march route stopped at Colter Park where hundreds of demonstrators gathered to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Ukrainian national anthem.
Chants led by organizers included phrases like “we will overcome,” “USA supports Ukraine,” and “down with Putin.”
“I really want people to support Ukraine because we are the country that is protecting democracy right now in front of the entire world,” Doroshenko said.
Sara Sherman, who said she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine for almost three years—2017-2019- said she has family, friends, students and loved ones in Ukraine whom she’s been talking with constantly.
“I believe that if we can do our best to give a voice to the Ukrainian people, that we can do something and make change,” Sherman said. “The people there don’t deserve this. They didn’t ask for this and so the only thing we can do over here is actually be a voice for them.”