Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Local Ukrainian-Americans worried about violence, country's future

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Violence between protestors and Ukraine authorities escalated this week as a truce broke down, but wherever Ukrainians have settled, they are closely watching the drama being played out in their homeland.

Thousands of miles away, in the United States, natives of the Ukraine and the children of Ukrainian immigrants voiced mounting concern about the scenes of bloodshed and terror.

"I cannot give up for those people who stand there. And they're being so strong and I feel like I have to be strong and supportive of them. I'm trying to share as much information as I can among our friends," said Irina Dobyuk, who immigrated from Ukraine more than 20 years ago and now lives in the Syracuse area.

On Friday morning, news came that protestors and the government reached a tentative accord that calls for early elections as the opposition looks to ouster President Viktor Yanukovych.

Generations before and generations still to come need this kind of freedom for the people, just to be people themselves," said Greg Lisnyczyj, who attends St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Syracuse.

At places like St. John the Baptist, groups have been gathering to share information and to lobby for action by the West.

"We have sent monetary support over there we have collected. I know we have sent petitions to the senators, the government," said Nadia Hayduke.

On a trip to Mexico City, President Obama joined other western leaders in calling for an end to government violence against protesters, saying they risked sanctions if the crackdown continues.

"You cannot believe how uplifting it is for the people in Maidan to know that the president of the United States sends a strong message to the president of Ukraine, Yanukovych, to cease and desist and that there will be sanctions," said Orest Hrycyk.

There is optimism that freedom will eventually come, but at a heavy cost.

"Freedom is never as a gift. Freedom always comes through the blood. So, right now, people fighting for their freedom, and some of them dying, some of them injured. But, through death the people of Ukraine will find, for their future, peace," said Rev. Mykhailo Dosyak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP