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Hundreds rally in Rochester to support Ukraine

Hundreds of people rallied in support of Ukraine in front of the Federal Building in Rochester on State St. on Feb. 26, 2022
Randy Gorbman
/
WXXI News
Hundreds of people rallied in support of Ukraine in front of the Federal Building in Rochester on State St. on Feb. 26, 2022

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Rochester Saturday afternoon in support of Ukraine, which has been under attack by Russia in recent days.

The rally and march started outside the Federal Building on State Street, with many of those participating immigrants from Ukraine, or some, like Dennis Pavlyuk, a first generation American, who still has a number of relatives in Ukraine.

He said his family tries to keep in touch, but he is bolstered by the spirit of the people in Ukraine,

“I think it’s an absolute tragedy, there’s no other way to put it. The women and children are driving in cars toward Poland’s border trying to escape and the men are volunteering, they’re picking up arms and they’re ready to fight,” said Pavlyuk.

Olga Solonichnaya was born in Ukraine and moved here when she was five. Her family is also in touch with relatives in her native country.

“They’re doing good, they’re scared, but they’re doing good,” said Solonichnaya. “They’re staying safe, none of my family has gotten hurt yet which is good.”

Also at the rally, Semion Kiriakidi, who said he was born in Russia. But he’s upset with what the Russian government, specifically President Vladimir Putin, is doing.

“There is no Russian in it,” said Kiriakidi. “There is a criminal organization that runs that territory and brainwashes the population and it hurts to hear this labeling as Russian aggression, it’s Putin’s aggression. “

There are efforts locally to collect donations for people impacted by the fighting in Ukraine, with collections for humanitarian efforts organized through a local organization calledROC Maidan.

Rochester is home to one of the largest Ukrainian populations in the state, with more than 40,000 people of Ukrainian descent living in this area.

Rep. Joe Morelle (D-25), met with representatives of the local Ukrainian community on Saturday to hear their concerns, and Mayor Malik Evans took part in a ceremony to raise the Ukrainian flag outside City Hall.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.