Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Ukrainian NYers on Edge as Conflict Back Home Nears Possible Tipping Point

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TWC News: Ukrainian NYers on Edge as Conflict Back Home Nears Possible Tipping Point
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The moves and counter-moves over Ukraine are of special concern to New Yorkers with relatives in the embattled country including many in the East Village where immigrants continue to keep close watch on events in their homeland. NY1's Kristen Shaughnessy filed the following report.

Candles from a nighttime vigil remain on the sidewalk on Second Avenue in the East Village. Above there are pictures and posters including one that reads "In memory of those killed in Ukraine during the protests for freedom."

A Ukrainian American woman came to take pictures for her parents. She says they are all heartbroken and hoping Secretary of State John Kerry's visit will help stabilize the region.

"It is very hard for my parents to see the same history repeat that they saw 50 years ago. It is happening again now," said Sophia Kaczor, a Ukraine native.

Down the street the sign outside a Ukrainian restaurant makes its loyalties clear. It reads "Putin stay out of Ukraine." Inside, many of the workers and customers are watching including Daria Genza, who runs a company that sends packages of donations to Ukraine.

"I didn't sleep the whole night; I was listening to the news," she said.

And those with lots of family in Ukraine say waiting for Putin's next move and the world's response is terrifying. Some were reluctant to give their full names.

"I don't think Putin understands what he is doing because he is going to start war in Crimea like half the people are from Russia and it is impossible to start war because those people can be dead," said one Ukrainian immigrant.

"This is not right. Russia always wants to help Crimea and I think they are just looking for an excuse saying people asked them to come in, but it is not true because the Russians speaking Ukrainian there are perfectly safe," said another Ukrainian immigrant.

"Usually I contact my family once a week but now I call almost every day because I am a little scared for them. Like how do they feel, what is the situation like? People still protest? Is there anybody fighting or shooting?" said a third Ukrainian immigrant.

Meantime, it is in the Ukranian community where they find comfort, in a city far from home waiting to see what happened next in their homeland.

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