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Crowd Gathers In Ukrainian Village To Support Ukraine, Calls Attack By Russia 'Barbaric'

By Marissa Perlman

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Hundreds of people stood together in Chicago's Ukrainian Village community Thursday in solidarity with the people of Ukraine – amid what Ukrainian officials have called a "full-scale invasion" by Russia.

As CBS 2's Marissa Perlman reported, about 200 people came together to call for an end to violence. Through song, prayer, and protest, the message was clear – "stop the war" and "stop Putin."

They want help for their family in Ukraine, but also for human rights and for democracy – calling the attack "barbaric."

The Ukrainian flag also flew proudly Thursday outside the Ukrainian Cultural Center, 2247 W. Chicago Ave. Despite the cold, families said they wanted to show up – even bringing their youngest kids – because they wanted to show support for their home country that is now under attack.

Many say they are glued to social media – the news here and abroad – as they worry about family. Some have family members living right in the areas where the attacks are targeted.

"U.S.A. supports Ukraine! U.S.A. supports Ukraine!" chanted the crowd, which included U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois).

"President Biden promised sanctions," said Pavlo Bandriwsky, vice president of the Ukrainian Congress of America. "He said, 'Cross the red line, Putin, and we will make you pay.' How much more Ukrainian blood has to be shed to make them pay?"

Rep. Quigley called for the U.S. to provide support - even though our own economy may take a hit.

"The world Is watching, and watching our resolve and how we respond to this," Quigley said.

Sisters Marta and Natalie Sendun are now living in anxiety. Their family is spread across Ukraine – and they say some are too stubborn to leave.

"We are worried for our country; for the existence of our country; for our people," said Marta Sendun.

"We're very scared for our family," added Natalie Sendun. "There's a bit of helplessness too, because we feel like we can't have direct impact."

Meanwhile, Vasylyna Pasternak's in-laws are in town from Ukraine, and nowt they can't go back. They will be in Chicago for the foreseeable future, while her family still in Ukraine is packed up and ready to go.

"They don't know what to expect," Pasternak said.

The calls for peace Thursday were loud outside the cultural center, but down the street, Vasil Burak – longtime owner of the Ukrainian business Ann's Bakery & Deli at 2158 W. Chicago Ave. – silently fears for his country.

"Right now, this is felt by all Ukraine – all cities, you know – from east to west to north to south," Burak said.

Burak has called Chicago home for 20 years. He worries Ukraine can't compete with Russia's military.

Perlman: "Are you scared?"

Burak: "This is the problem. Of course I am. This is really a war. It's not a joke."

The Ukrainian American community is 200,000 strong in Chicago and across the state of Illinois. They know their fight is far from over, and another protest is planned for this Sunday outside the Ukrainian Cultural Center.

Rallies and vigils for Ukraine were also held elsewhere throughout the Chicago area late Thursday, including northwest suburban Palatine – where a candlelit vigil and prayer service was held.

STREAMING LIVE: Vigil For Ukraine In Palatine

Ukraine supporters gather for prayer and candle vigil in Palatine.

Posted by CBS Chicago on Thursday, February 24, 2022


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