Upwards of a thousand individuals gathered Monday on the Utah Capitol, the place, for the primary time within the state’s historical past, the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag flew alongside the U.S. and Utah flags.
The rally was a wanted present of assist for the embattled European nation, stated Ivan Bagmet, a Ukrainian man who was compelled to flee along with his household to the U.S. practically eight years in the past.
As a Ukrainian nationalist dwelling in Donetsk — one of many areas that Russian President Vladimir Putin not too long ago declared impartial as a pretext for invasion — Bagmet advised The Salt Lake Tribune that he confronted harsh persecution that culminated in an try on his life in 2014.
The subsequent day, his younger household of 4 fled to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, after which flew to Utah.
“[The invasion] isn’t just Ukraine’s downside, it’s everybody else’s downside as nicely,” he stated, referencing Putin’s ominous remarks about nuclear arms. “It’s not going to cease in Ukraine, and proper now it’s a menace to the entire world, together with [the] United States.”
All through the rally, Ukrainians within the crowd raised impassioned shouts of their native language, voicing assist for his or her countrymen who are actually combating for his or her lives half a world away. For them, even the Ukrainians dwelling in Utah, Russia’s invasion hits near residence.
Bagmet stated he has household and associates nonetheless dwelling in Donetsk and Kyiv, together with his mother and father and in-laws.
“As quickly because it began, principally, my brother known as me. It was like 5:38 a.m. within the morning, Ukrainian time,” he stated. “For me, it was, like, principally center of the day. … He simply wakened at 5:38 a.m. as a result of the constructing was shaking from explosions. And he simply known as me and stated, ‘Hey, it appears prefer it’s began.’”
What adopted had been days spent on the telephone, checking in on family members, ensuring that everybody was OK.
Thus far, Ukrainian forces have managed to stymie the Russian invasion.
“I do know that nations [are] normally born in tears and blood, and I consider that’s what’s happening with Ukrainian individuals proper now,” Bagmet stated. “As a result of Putin stated he [was] going to take over Ukraine inside 48 hours. As you recognize, it’s been 5 days … and Ukrainian individuals [are] combating again.”
Regardless of the satisfaction he has in his nation, and his fellow nationalists, Bagmet stated Ukraine alone won’t be able to win this conflict. Russia is simply too skilled and is a far higher army energy than its neighbor.
So Ukraine is counting on different international locations to supply help.
“As soon as, eight years in the past, I stay in a peaceable nation,” Bagmet stated, warning that the peaceable life loved by many People is fragile. “So, please, don’t be indifferent. Please, attempt to assist for those who can.”
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and some lawmakers spoke on the rally, held to point out solidarity with Ukrainians in Europe and in Utah after an identical occasion on the Capitol on Saturday.
Attendees held yellow flowers, waved flags, and joined in chants of “Ukraine!” and “Zelensky!” — referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who the audio system usually known as a “hero.”
Rep. Jordan Teuscher, D-South Jordan, stated Russia’s assault on Ukraine impacts not solely Ukrainians like his spouse and her household, but additionally Utahns.
“This assault in opposition to Ukraine isn’t just an assault in opposition to Ukraine, however an assault in opposition to democracy and an assault in opposition to each single one in every of us,” he stated.
The governor and lieutenant governor echoed that sentiment of their transient remarks.
“Our horror at what’s unfolding in Europe with our associates is heightened by the conclusion that freedom, democracy, justice and self-determination is below assault,” Henderson stated. “We stand with Ukraine not simply due to what’s occurring to its individuals … but additionally as a result of the invasion right into a sovereign nation highlights the fragility of all that we maintain expensive.”
The lieutenant governor additionally quoted Sen. Mitt Romney, referring to Putin as a “small, evil, feral-eyed man” who she stated, “deserves each little bit of scorn and condemnation for his evil actions.”
Romney appeared on CNN on Sunday and stated Republicans’ assist of the Russian president was “nearly treasonous.”
In his speech, Cox expressed love for the 1,500 Ukrainians dwelling within the state, however he additionally spoke to Utah’s Russian inhabitants, saying, “We don’t maintain you accountable for the acts of a madman.”
Echoing his weblog put up revealed on-line Monday, Cox urged Utahns to place apart division, although the U.S. is “flawed,” he stated.
“Our Ukrainian associates are reminding us what it means to be American,” Cox stated on the rally. “They want us. They want a united us. They want the very best of us. And we want them.”
Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who spoke below a sky she described as “nearly as blue because the stripe on the Ukrainian flag,” stated Russia’s assault on Ukraine was private for her.
Her household fled Russian-occupied Lithuania throughout World Warfare II, she stated, and so they had been by no means in a position to return. “Our democracy is simply as secure as our dedication to it,” she stated.
Mendenhall additionally known as on Utahns to ship assist to the Salt Lake Metropolis sister cities of Chernivtsi in Ukraine, and Izhevsk in Russia.
The rally was held on one other busy day on the Utah Legislature, however Republican Home Speaker Rep. Brad Wilson stated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine warranted lawmakers hitting the “pause button.”
Simply hours earlier than the rally, the Utah Legislature unanimously handed a invoice denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urging the U.S. federal authorities to “restore peace in Europe.”
The rally closed with a prayer from Rabbi Samuel Spector of Congregation Kol Ami, in addition to a prayer in Ukrainian from a lady sporting a blue scarf who was recognized solely as Anna.
The rally’s host, entrepreneur Owen Fuller, stated that the Utah Capitol could be lit up in yellow and blue for Ukraine as soon as the sky darkened Monday night, as had been the governor’s mansion, the College of Utah’s block U. and lots of companies all through Salt Lake Metropolis and the state.
Cox stated that the one different time the Utah Capitol has been lit up was throughout the 2002 Winter Olympics.