People silently listen to speakers at a rally Downtown in support of Ukraine on Sunday evening. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)
People silently listen to speakers at a rally Downtown in support of Ukraine on Sunday evening.

Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

‘Proud to be Ukrainian’: Hundreds gather Downtown in support of Ukraine

February 28, 2022

Hundreds of people rallied Sunday evening in downtown Pittsburgh in support of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s recent invasion, waving flags, praying and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. Mayor Ed Gainey was among several speakers present.

The event, organized by the Ukrainian American Youth of Southwestern Pennsylvania, filled Liberty Avenue Park until after sunset. Supporters chanted “Slava Ukraini!” (“Glory to Ukraine!”) and carried signs calling for an end to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

People sing the Ukrainian national anthem at a rally Downtown in support of Ukraine on Sunday evening. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

For many, like first-year history major Liv Beckage, this sentiment towards Russia was not new.

“This isn’t just an issue of today,” Beckage said. “This has been an issue for centuries and centuries.”

A Ukrainian religious leader led the crowd in a prayer for peace in both English and Ukrainian, passing the microphone to a young girl who shouted “No more war!”

A young girl speaks in support of peace at a rally Downtown in support of Ukraine on Sunday evening. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Andrew Romanchik of Franklin Park, one of the rally’s organizers, said he did not expect Ukraine and Russia to go to war.

“This protest isn’t gonna stop the war,” Romanchik said. “It will take a lot more to stop the war. But what this does show is that not only are we spreading awareness, but the Ukrainian community can unite.”

Christina Petrylo, of Scott Township, was another one of the rally’s organizers. She said she feels supported, even by those who are not Ukrainian.

Participants hold signs and flags at a rally Downtown in support of Ukraine on Sunday evening. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

“I feel really happy that all of us as a community, even though not all of us are Ukrainian … we can all come together and be together and support Ukraine,” Petrylo said.

Gainey said the rally “demonstrated how we can come together to support Ukraine and defend democracy.”

Romanchik said he does not expect a long-lasting impact on Ukraine’s spirit.

“Everyone there is very patriotic, very proud to be Ukrainian and this war. Although it may hurt Ukraine’s infrastructure, it will not hurt Ukraine’s people,” Romanchik said.

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