When fifth-year Ph.D. student Damian Pavlyshyn joined the rally against Russian aggression in Ukraine on Sunday, he witnessed the Crimean Tatars, Belarusian pro-democracy activists and Ukrainian expatriates all uniting for a common cause at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
“The rally was all that I had hoped for,” Pavlyshyn wrote in an email, adding that he was pleased to see the diversity of groups present. “This effect was so strong that at times the supportive honking of passing drivers was loud enough to drown out the rally’s speakers.”
International advocacy group “Stand with Ukraine,” alongside a group of Stanford students, organized the rally amidst rising fears of a Russian invasion in Ukraine. The event aimed to muster political and public support by drawing the attention of Bay Area residents to the conflict.
At Stanford, the Ukrainian community and other affected groups are growing increasingly concerned for the safety of their family and friends back home. Some used the rally to process their fear and hopes about the future of Ukraine.
Pavlyshyn used the rally as “an opportunity to add [his] voice to the growing chorus of support for the Ukrainian cause and gratitude to Ukraine’s partners, especially the United States,” he wrote.
The turnout at the rally from numerous communities beyond Ukrainians — including Crimean Tatars, Belarusians, Russians and others — did not go unnoticed.
Catarina Buchatskiy ’24, a Ukrainian student who helped organize the rally, wrote in an email that it was “heartwarming to see how many different communities came together to stand with Ukraine.”
Attendees also described the experience as intense and emotional. Sonya Epifantseva ’25, an international student from Russia, wrote that “the rally was emotionally tough; everyone is terrified and it is heartbreaking.”
Pavlyshyn expressed gratitude for the growing recognition of the crisis in Ukraine among Americans, writing that “it was very gratifying to hear that solidarity with Ukraine and opposition to Russian imperialism has finally entered the mainstream American consciousness.”
The next “Stand With Ukraine” rally is at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20 and will again take place at the Ferry Building. “We will be there, rallying in memory of the Heavenly Hundred protestors that died on that day in 2014, fighting for Ukraine’s independence,” Buchatskiy wrote.
This article has been corrected to reflect Damian Pavlyshyn is a fifth-year Ph.D. student. The Daily regrets this error.