Ukrainians in Bermuda appeal for aid donations after Russia invades their country
Ukrainians in Bermuda protested yesterday against the massive Russian invasion of their country.
About half of the 50-strong Ukrainian community on the island gathered at City Hall to highlight Russian aggression.
Many had earlier called home to check on families and friends who have been pitched into a war zone.
Olha Lytovchenko, who works at the Hamilton Princess, phoned her mother and sister, who live in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.
She said: “I was speaking to my family this morning and I know that they are very scared.
“My feelings are so mixed up because I want to support them and must be strong for them, but as soon as I got off the phone, I started crying. I am very worried.
“I also spoke to some friends and they had do go down into the subway. When they woke up this morning there were air attacks – explosions and alarms going off – and they had to go to the subway for shelter.
“There are lots of military bases around Kiev and it’s the capital, which is why it is being attacked.
“It’s crazy because we never thought that was going to happen.”
Ms Lytovchenko’s boyfriend, Oleksandr Kryvchenko, also from the Ukraine, emphasised there was no hostility between Ukrainian and Russian people on the island.
He blamed politicians for causing the conflict.
Mr Lytovchenko, who has been in Bermuda for three years and also works at the Hamilton Princess, said: “I have Russian friends here and also Russian friends in Russia – I used to work in Moscow.
“This is not about Russians against Ukrainians – we don’t have an issue with the Russian people and we don’t have a bad relationship with Russia as a nation. This is a political issue.
“We don’t have a problem with people – we have a problem with politics.”
Mr Lytovchenko was backed by Egor Nesterenko, a Russian who arrived at the demonstration to cheers from Ukrainian friends.
Mr Nesterenko, from Voronezh in central Russia, said that there were close ties between citizens of the two countries in Bermuda.
He added that Russians on the island had condemned the attack and blamed Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, for the crisis.
Mr Nesterenko said: “We feel their pain. Russian people here are lucky because we are not subjected to Russian propaganda – we have other sources of information.
“I think the vast majority of Russian people here are against what Putin has been doing over the last few month, escalating the situation.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of yesterday morning after months of sabre-rattling.
The attack on the country was condemned by world leaders and the United Nations.
Zhenya Nelson, a spokeswoman for the group, compared the situation to the start of the Second World War – and cast Mr Putin in the Adolf Hitler role.
Ms Nelson said: “Today we are gathered here to say that we’re united and stand together against this horrible terror.
“The people out there are terrified. The need a lot of help, and unfortunately right now help is not coming.
“So we’re doing all we can to help our nation.”
The group has launched a fundraising campaign through the Ptix website, with donations going to the Ukrainian Red Cross.
The Donate to Ukraine page said: “Dear Bermuda family.
“Thank you for standing with us during this most difficult time for our country.
“The support we are getting from you is incredible. A lot of you are asking how you can help to support Ukrainian people who are impacted by the Russian invasion.
“We have partnered with Ptix to start a fundraising page that will raise funds for Red Cross Ukraine.
“All funds raised will go directly to the Red Cross Ukraine to help the people most affected by this tragedy. Thank you for your support.”
Mr Lytovchenko, who organised the fundraising effort said: “Bermudians have a big heart so we want to appeal to them.”
Maksym Fedotov, from Odessa, a port city which has been bombed and where Russian soldiers landed, agreed that cash to help civilians caught in the conflict would be needed.
Mr Fedotov added: “I called my friend and he told me that there were explosions going off everywhere. I immediately went on the internet to see what was going on.
“People are leaving the big cities because they are being attacked. People are trying to move closer to Europe for their own safety.
“My parents are in Odessa but they don’t want to leave because they are looking after my grandparents, who are very elderly. But we need to raise funds because the shops in Odessa are empty.”
Mr Fedotov, who works at The Village Pantry in Flatts, blamed the Russian Kremlin for the invasion.
He said: “I think Putin is dangerous. I think he hates Ukraine and Ukrainians – both the country and the people.”
Viktoriya Korshunova, who works at Little Venice restaurant in Hamilton, said: “We just work up this morning to learn of the news. I don’t really know what to say at the moment.
“We’re just praying and asking that Bermudians can help in some way and pray with us.”
Contributions to the Donate to Ukraine fund can be made here.