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Demonstrations in New Hampshire call for more support for Ukraine

A photo of a child in a blue jacket and blue and yellow scarf holding a sign that says Ukraine Strong as a group stands along Main Street.
Geoff Forrester
/
The Concord Monitor
Mika Rondiak acknowledges the beeps from cars as they stand outside the State House in downtown Concord on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

The pro-Ukraine demonstration in downtown Concord Tuesday was considerably smaller than the rally Marko Rondiak and his family attended in Boston on Sunday. But given the escalating situation in Ukraine, the group wanted more people to realize time was of the essence.

“Every hour matters,” Rondiak said. “We figured it’s important to just get out now and then hopefully we can do something bigger.”

The group of demonstrators lined Main Street, waving yellow and blue flags and holding signs with messages like “Stand with Ukraine,” as passersby honked in support.

In the last 24 hours, Russian forces, which began invading the country last week, escalated their attacks on crowded urban areas, bombarding the central square in Ukraine’s second-biggest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower in what the country’s president called a blatant campaign of terror.

Closed-circuit television footage showed a fireball engulfing the street in front of the building, with a few cars rolling to a stop from the billowing smoke.

Josh Duclos, a humanities teacher at St. Paul’s School, said these are the moments that historians will look back on.

“When you study history, everyone thinks ‘gosh, in retrospect, it looks so simple, why didn’t someone say something?’ ” he said. “This seems like a historical moment so for whatever it’s worth, people need to pay very close attention to what’s happening now before it’s too late.”

Duclos spent time in Eastern Europe as a Fullbright scholar and still has friends in the countries surrounding Ukraine. He said he hopes that even small demonstrations will catch the attention of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, who may relay that Americans are concerned in Washington.

U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan sent a letter Monday to the president, urging the administration to grant Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians in the United States, which would allow them to stay in the country while their home is unsafe.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order last week in support of Ukraine that banned the state-run liquor and wine outlets from selling Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits until further notice.

More than a half-million people have fled the country, and countless others have taken shelter underground. Bomb damage to pipes and other basic services have left hundreds of thousands of families without drinking water, UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths said.

Rondiak’s brother, also an American citizen, works in Kyiv and is one of the people who recently evacuated. His brother stayed in Ukraine for as long as he could despite U.S. State Department warnings to evacuate but finally escaped through Romania and is now sheltering in Warsaw.

“He didn’t want to come back to the States because he felt guilty,” he said. “Almost all of his employees are still back there: good, decent people that work decent jobs and are just trying to live a normal peaceful life.”

To Paul Nechipurenko, a Ukrainian-American living in New Hampshire, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is devastating, but not surprising. His grandparents and parents immigrated to the United States after Joseph Stalin forced Ukrainians to give up their land and property, which launched a famine that killed millions.

“This is no surprise to me at all,” Nechipurenko said. “It’s what we ran away from as a family 70 years ago.”

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 

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