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Demonstrators Gather at Copley Square in Support of Ukraine, Exactly One Year Since Russia’s Invasion

Demonstrators make their way into Trinity Church for a photo-poster exhibition showcasing the atrocities of the war in Ukraine after the 2-3 p.m. rally. (Photo by Kaito Au/BU News Service)

By Kaito Au
Boston University News Service

A large crowd of Boston residents gathered in Copley Square to show their continued support for Ukraine during the one year anniversary since Russia’s invasion on Sunday, Feb. 26. 

Boston’s Ukrainian diaspora members and supporters chanted “Slava Ukraini!” – translated as “Glory to Ukraine!” –  while they stood outside Trinity Church. The demonstration was organized by Ukrainian Cultural Center of New England, Trinity Church, seven other organizations and individual volunteers. Organizers later held a photo-poster exhibition inside the church showing Ukraine’s destruction from the war, followed by a religious service in prayer for Ukraine.

Since the invasion, 8,101 people have been killed and 13,479 have been injured, according to the United Nations

To address Ukraine’s growing casualties, Boston-based nonprofit Mriya supplies those in need with items including tourniquets, chest seals and Israeli bandages. All such items are used to treat severe injuries inflicted by weapons.

Mriya, meaning “dream” in Ukrainian, shares the same name as the Ukrainian cargo aircraft An-255 Mriya, which was destroyed by Russia on Feb. 24, 2022. For Shashko Horokh, Director of Mriya and whose grandfather engineered the famous “largest aircraft in the world,” the Ukraine they grew up with is a sheer memory.

A member of the LGBTQ community, Sashko Horokh displays their rainbow flag as demonstrators cheer in support. “Russia is trying to control people’s freedom [of] expression, and homophobia and transphobia [have] been historical tools for that,” they said. (Photo by Kaito Au/BU News Service)

“When I [went] home to volunteer in the summer, I still thought of it as my home where I grew up,” they said. “But it’s not really that anymore.”

Horokh, who grew up in Kyiv and is now an MIT sophomore, recalled driving through the now war-torn city of Irpin five years ago and again visiting last summer as a volunteer.

“[There were] brand new houses [and] apartment buildings [with] mostly young families,” they said. “But when I was there [last] summer, they were kids’ toys and bricks.”

The crowd of demonstrators included parents and their children; some too young to comprehend the full ramifications of the war. Many parents whose children were old enough to understand, however, made sure to instill in them a sense of Ukrainian pride and support for their country in the war. 

Anna Zhyhymont, who grew up in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk and moved to Boston 10 years ago, brought along her two sons – Adrian, 13, and Marko Martsinkiv, 7 – to do just that.

“I think it’s important for them to come to this event,” Zhyhymont said. “They need to be fully aware about what’s going on.”

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