Manhattan unites around Ukraine


Daniel Biniecki

The Manhattan community gathers at Triangle Park for an event called “We Stand with Ukraine.”

Daniel Biniecki, Staff Writer

More than 150 people, some with posters and banners, some wearing traditional Ukraine folk attire, gathered in Triangle Park last Tuesday for an event called “We Stand with Ukraine” to show their support for Ukraine, which is under siege by Russian forces. After a candlelight vigil, the crowd walked through Aggieville and around City Park to show their support and solidarity for the country, which was invaded by Russian forces under the direction of Russian President Vladmir Putin on Feb. 24.

The invasion is an escalation of conflicts in Ukraine after the Russian invasion of the Crimea and Donbas regions in 2014. Putin’s war on a sovereign nation has united much of the world to stand up and support the Ukrainians. Their motto is called “We Stand with Ukraine.”

Olga Volok, a senior auditor at Kansas State University, worked with KSU assistant professor of sociology Nadia Shapkina to organize the march. While Volok is from Ukraine and Shapkina is from Russia, they are united against the invasion. 

Volok explained how shocked and devastated she was to learn of the attacks that are transpiring in Ukraine. Volok and Shapkina both described Shapkina calling and asking Volok “How are you and what are we going to do?” When they both decided on a march, Volok immediately got licenses and permits for the march and told Shapkina “I have everything, let’s do it.”

Attending the event were children, adults and Manhattan High School students, including senior Ava Reese.

“It’s important to stand for solidarity especially during these times of horror,” Reese said. “It’s terrifying seeing the videos from Ukraine.” 

MHS para Lina Metlevski also expressed fear for her family in Lithuania.

“If Putin gets too bold, Lithuania could be next,” Metlevski said. “This event shows me who is strong.” 

Everybody had their own reason for attending. Some are being deployed to Poland for a second time, while others, such as those from the country of Georgia who felt they could empathize with Ukraine because Russia also invaded their country in 2003. All felt that Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine was criminal and that Putin needed to be stopped and agreed that Putin’s forces need to be stopped from attacking civilians. Volok and Shapkina’s friends who stayed in Kiev also told them that the bombing and attacks have been unjust.

“The only way I know my friends are safe is that their social media icons are active,” Volok said. “I live with this constant worry every day.”

Volok said that she would continue to post ways the community of Manhattan could stay involved with supporting Ukraine through donations to various charities to provide services to refugees and the soldiers fighting for Ukraine.