Ukrainians, Russians condemn Russia attacks during protest at Utah Capitol

“You just don’t know what’s going to happen any minute,” said one Ukrainian college student living in Orem.

(Kim Bojórquez | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters gather at Utah Capitol to condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

Lyza Pashchamko received a FaceTime call from her mother on Wednesday night to show her the military planes and helicopters flying over her family’s home in Ukraine just hours after Russia initiated an attack on the country.

Pashchamko, along with more than a dozen protesters, showed up at the Utah Capitol on Thursday evening to express solidarity with Ukrainians and condemn Russia for its invasion of the European country. Several protesters, mostly college-age students from Ukraine and Russia, waved Ukrainian flags and handmade signs condemning the war.

During early hours Thursday, Russia launched a series of attacks throughout Ukraine, prompting President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on the Soviet Union.

“We have families there, and I just was crying all night, all day,” said the 23-year-old Utah Valley University student, who moved to the state in 2015 from Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen any minute.”

(Kim Bojórquez | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters gather at the Utah Capitol to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

Pashchamko, who moved to Utah in 2015 from Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine, to attend school said she recently arrived from a trip to an Eastern European country to visit her friends and family. During her visit, she noticed an unusual Russian military presence at the border.

While her hometown has not yet been attacked, Pashchamko said her family is bracing for bombings and explosions.

Aleks Goncharov, a University of Utah student from Volgograd, Russia, blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching an unprovoked attack on the neighboring country. Goncharov added that he heard of the invasion from several of his friends living in Ukraine.

“I just want to show my sincere support to our brothers and sisters from Ukraine and be very clear that we do not support the actions of our delusional president,” 25-year-old Goncharov said while holding a blue and yellow sign that read “STOP WAR.”

Lina Varionaova, 23, attended the protest to bring awareness to what’s happening in Ukraine.

“My whole family and all of my friends are still in Ukraine. They are scared every minute that goes by,” Varionaova said. “We’ve been in a state of war for eight years, but for the past few days [it has] been escalating.”

Hours earlier, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams condemned Russia for striking Ukraine.

“I’m really disappointed that a superpower like the Soviet Union would stretch out and use those superpowers on a small country like Ukraine,” he told reporters during a news conference.