Hundreds rally at State Capitol in solidarity with Ukraine

MADISON, Wis. — Hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol building Saturday afternoon for a rally in support of Ukraine following a Russian invasion of the country just days prior.

Speakers at the Rally, many of whom have relatives in Ukraine, took turns sharing their story with the crowd and attendees were encouraged to dress in blue in yellow, matching the Ukrainian flag, to symbolize their solidarity.

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Among them was University of Wisconsin international student Yuri Kvasiuk, a Ukrainian native, who said he came out because he wanted to see like minded people.

“This is the least I can do,” Kvasiuk said. ”This is an important message to people who are there that they are not alone and people all over the world are standing with them.”

Kvasiuk has been a graduate student at UW for about a year but his family and friends are in Ukraine and he said for him these past few days have been terrifying.

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“They are hiding in bomb shelters,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything, anything except just checking how do they feel, whether they are in a safe place–if you can say there is a safe place now in Ukraine.”

Thousands of miles away from home his feeling of powerlessness is something Russian native Petr Pisarev could relate to.

Pisarev also has family in Ukraine and he said he attended the rally because he wanted to make it clear to people that Putin’s actions don’t represent the will of the Russian people.

“For me, it is horrible. It is terrifying,” he said. “Russians never wanted war.”

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Pisarev said he’s not sure what the way forward is and Kvasiuk too is uncertain what the future will hold but the Ukrainian native is putting his faith in his countrymen. 

 “Ukrainian soldiers who are dying now, they are dying for a great cause,” Kvasiuk said. “They’re dying for their land and the independence of their people.”

Attendees voiced support for the U.S’s current economic sanctions against Russia but also asked for more assistance, specifically to help protect Ukraine’s airspace.

They also said while the average American can’t officer military support, they are asking people to help raise awareness and contact their political representatives and push them to take more action.