CU community holds rally to support Ukraine


Sydney Laput

People hold signs in support of Ukraine during the rally held at Alma Mater on Sunday. The rally was held by the Ukrainian Student Association with around 250 attendees.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya and Faith Allendorf

On Sunday afternoon, yellow and blue colors surrounded Alma Mater. Flags waved in the wind as various posters were presented and words of support for Ukraine were spoken. One phrase in particular was uttered after every speech: “Slava Ukraini,” which translates to “Glory to Ukraine.”  

From Italy, England and now Champaign, rallies have been held across the world to support Ukraine after Russia’s invasion on Thursday. Ukrainians and allies alike gathered in front of Alma Mater from noon to 1 p.m. to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on the yellow and blue country. 

Around 250 people were in attendance at the rally hosted by the Ukrainian Student Association, with individuals holding up posters such as “Peace for Ukraine” and “UIUC stands with Ukraine.” 

The rally began with speeches by members of the community showing solidarity with Ukraine. Gleb Tymoshenko, sophomore in Media and member of the Ukrainian Student Association, kicked off the speeches with a call to stop the war.

“We the people are here to support the free and independent country of Ukraine,” Tymoshenko said. “Our parents, family, friends and relatives are hearing sirens, missiles, bullets at this moment. Show that peace matters. Say no to senseless war.” 

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The speakers encouraged attendees to donate to the Return Alive Foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses donations to give equipment to Ukrainian soldiers.

After several speeches, supporters banded together to sing Ukraine’s national anthem. 

Tymoshenko, who lived in Ukraine until he was 13, said he came out to support his country and family. 

“I’m just amazed by seeing all these people, all the support,” Tymoshenko said. 

Members of the Ukrainian Student Association sing Ukraine’s national anthem in front of Alma Mater on Sunday. (Sydney Laput)

“We’ve also been in a very similar situation with World War II and what not, so also always want to come out and support our fellow neighbors,” said Ania Leus, graduate student in Business and treasurer of the Zagloba Polish Club. 

Laura Dean, a professor of political science at Millikin University, made an hour-long drive to Champaign to join the rally. Dean said she and her husband lived in Ukraine up until 2013 before the Russo-Ukrainian war began. 

“I’m shocked and appalled at what’s been happening,” Dean said. “I came over today, because otherwise, I’m just gonna sit on Twitter and read Ukrainian news and, like, try to figure out what’s going on.”

Alec Auster, junior in Engineering stood in front of the Alma Mater, smiling and waving a large blue and yellow Ukraine flag in support. Auster explained why the rally was important to him.

“My mom’s Ukrainian,” Auster said. “She’s first-gen. She was born, like a year after my grandma got here. So I’m just here to support my country, my people and also my family for my grandma.” 

Auster also mentioned Russians who are affected by Putin’s invasion. He said there are many who do not support what the president has done.

“Russian people probably don’t want this,” Auster said. “I highly doubt they do. There are plenty of protests going on there.”

Dean emphasized misconceptions about the strength of Ukranians. She said that the country is a lot stronger than meets the eye. 

“My students are always like ‘Is there going to be boots on the ground? They want us (the US) to fight?’ And I’m like ‘No they can clearly handle themselves,’” Dean said.

 The fight for Ukraine is ongoing, and for those who are directly affected such as Dean, witnessing what Putin is doing to their country is devastating.

“It’s a really emotional thing to me because I lived there,” Dean said. “Watching bombs come down on a place that I used to live in was just like, really difficult.” 

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