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Stanford students help organize ‘Stand With Ukraine’ rally in San Francisco

Feb. 3, 2022, 12:23 a.m.

The “Stand With Ukraine” campaign, an international advocacy group, will host a rally to protest Russian aggression in Ukraine, on Feb. 6 at the San Francisco Ferry Building.

The rally comes on the heels of increased threats of Russian invasion and a wave of international media and government focus. While Russian denies it plans to invade Ukraine, leaders have not explained why at least 100,000 troops are positioned within reach of Ukraine’s borders. A Facebook page for the rally invites “Ukrainians and all who care about a peaceful and stable world” to participate. According to the invitation, the organizers’ goal is to “express solidarity with Ukraine as a sovereign country” and rally support among city leaders and residents. 

Several Stanford students who took part in organizing the event expressed their thoughts on the unfolding situation in Ukraine and urged students to become involved.

Yuliia Bezvershenko, the former Director General of the Directorate of Science and Innovation in the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, described the rally as “a moment to reinforce clearly that Russia’s aggression is unacceptable.” Bezvershenko is a Ukrainian Emerging Leader Program Visiting Scholar at Stanford. 

Bezvershenko wrote in an email that the rally also intends to express gratitude to individuals and organizations across the world supporting Ukraine: “People worldwide show solidarity with Ukraine as a sovereign and independent democratic country, and #StandWithUkraine in San Francisco is one more place where it can be done.” 

Catarina Buchatskiy ’24, who helped organize the rally, echoed Bezvershenko, writing that the rally is “a message to the people back home that Ukraine is very much in everyone’s hearts and minds, no matter how distant we may be.”

“Connecting with other Ukrainians and allies for the Ukrainian cause at rallies like the one on Sunday is so important to me, and many others in the Ukrainian diaspora,” Buchatskiy said. “It’s a message that we won’t remain complacent, won’t turn a blind eye, and are ready to stand up to defend Ukraine against another attack.”

Andrii Torchylo ’25, whose family still resides in Ukraine, said the heightening tensions in the nation have been a constant source of stress. Speaking to his family, he said, just puts additional stress on his shoulders.

“It is very terrifying to think that your country might stop existing in a span of a few months, and sometimes I feel like I can’t do anything about it,” Torchylo wrote. “I question a lot the purpose of my education in the U.S. since I won’t be able to come back to Ukraine in the case of invasion.”

The dispute has drawn the eyes of many across the world in recent weeks, as Russia’s threats begin to seem increasingly imminent. Buchatskiy eyes the new international interest in the Russia-Ukraine crisis with skepticism, questioning “where this global outrage [has] been” in the past.

“If I stop and think about the situation too much, I start seeing red,” she said. “Ukrainian soldiers have been fighting and laying down their lives in this conflict for the past eight years.” 

While Buchatskiy’s trust in the world has been undermined by years of international disregard for the crisis, her trust in Ukraine is strong as ever.

“Regardless of how the world responds, however, I have no doubt in my mind of how Ukraine and Ukrainians will respond,” Buchatskiy wrote. “One absolutely cannot underestimate the strength of Ukrainian patriotism and the burning love that we have for our country.”

Bezverchenko expressed similar sentiments, writing that previous instances of Russian aggression and years of war have increased the country’s resilience. The Ukrainian people, Bezverchenko said, are ready to “defend their freedom” when called upon.

The Ukrainian community at Stanford plans to launch a Ukrainian Organization on campus to elevate Ukrainian voices in “a narrative that so often has been distorted,” Buchatskiy wrote. 

Buchatskiy encouraged students, regardless of their background, to attend the upcoming rally and show their support for Ukrainian independence.

“How much further will this have to escalate?” she wrote. “For the future of not only Ukraine, but our global order — go to the rally. Stand with Ukraine. Stand with sovereignty. Stand with democracy. Stand with justice.”

A previous version of this article misspelled ‘Buchatskiy.’ The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Oriana at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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