Ukrainians living in New Jersey are praying and worrying about loved ones back home.
“Almost all of our people have families, myself also. I have a father, sister, her husband and two nephews,” said Ukrainian Catholic Church Priest Vasyl Putera.
“Some of my family members participating in fighting for the freedom of Ukraine. And I am always in contact. Thank god everything is well with them, with all the events that are going on there,” said Franklin Lakes resident Nataliya Malinovsky.
Protests in Ukraine had been growing over the past several months, since the government reneged on a deal to join the European Union. Then tensions erupted into bloodshed.
“What actually triggered it is when snipers killed 82 people. Then the whole thing broke because they were fed up and the Party of Regions actually broke up in essence and kicked out Yanokovich,” said Nutley resident Wolodymyr Mohuchy.
The Ukrainian president fled Kiev but vowed to remain in power despite a warrant for his arrest. Ukraine is divided between pro-Russian and Western-leaning areas. And it’s strategically important for Europe, Russia and the United States.
Despite the dramatic changes that have been unfolding in the Ukraine over the past several days, supports of the revolution living in New Jersey aren’t resting easy. That’s because they’re fearful Russian President Vladimir Putin may step in.
Ukrainian-Americans are holding out hope the United States will offer help.
“Number one to keep the sanctions very strong so that the money cut off from them. And the second one to make sure that Putin does not send his troops to supposedly rescue his people like he did in Georgia,” said Mohuchy.
Elections for a new Ukrainian president are scheduled for late May. In the meantime, many of the more than 70,000 Ukrainians here are keeping a watchful eye on events back home.