Philly Ukrainians want Putin out of their homeland

Posted: March 06, 2014

SOLOMIYA IVAKHIV is like many of her fellow Ukrainian natives living in Philadelphia: waiting on any development in her homeland and praying that Russian President Vladimir Putin pulls back his troops from inside the sovereign nation.

And while she and others wait, members of the local Ukrainian community peacefully take to the streets in support of their people back home.

They want "to show, to tell Mr. Putin to take his hands off Ukraine," said Ivakhiv, 33. "We will send a message to Putin to stop playing games [by] invading a foreign country."

Ivakhiv, whose main residence is in Fairmount, is an assistant professor in violin/viola at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and also has a residence in New York.

She said she believes that the West should freeze Russia's assets and halt economic trade.

Many in the local Ukrainian community hope that President Obama and the European Union will impose economic sanctions to pressure Russia to nix its military maneuvers.

Ivakhiv and others in Philadelphia's Ukrainian community plan to take part in a rally tomorrow in Washington, D.C., to demand that the United States act against Russia through sanctions. Ukrainian communities are expected from up and down the East Coast and from the Midwest.

And on Sunday, a recently formed group of Ukrainian activists, Razom, plans to hold a pro-Ukraine rally in Philadelphia, although details are still being worked out, board member Bohdan Pechenyak said.

Sunday's rally also will commemorate the bicentennial birthday of 19th-century Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, with participants reading from his works, said Pechenyak, 32, who immigrated here in 1998 with his parents.

Shevchenko's poems calling for an independent Ukraine are "still relevant today," said Pechenyak, of Fox Chase.

It's been three months since Ukrainians hit Kiev's streets to protest then-President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to reject an association with the European Union. The protests have resulted in 100 deaths and the ousting of Yanukovych.

Russian troops crossed into Crimea, in the southeast region of Ukraine, over the weekend. And yesterday they fired warning shots at Ukrainian soldiers.

Putin warned yesterday that Russia was willing to use "all means at our disposal" to protect ethnic Russians living in Ukraine (about 17 percent of the 44.6 million population).

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina


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