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Alissa Scott/Recorder staff Myrou Kywueych, Domna Swidersky, Stepan Dyakiv and the Rev. Marian Kostyk sing Ukraine's national anthem Thursday afternoon after a flag raising ceremony in front of Amsterdam City Hall.

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Ukrainians have their hearts in their homeland

Friday, March 28, 2014 - Updated: 10:25 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

alissa.scott@recordernews.com

Members of Amsterdam's Ukrainian community want to make sure Americans don't forget about the Russian invasion encroaching on their homeland.

"When we talk about it with each other, it's like preaching to the choir," local Ukrainian Congress President Myron Swidersky said. "We want to keep telling Americans about it so they remember that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is trying to upset world order."

Forty days ago, 100 Ukrainian people were killed protesting Putin's actions and in their memory about a dozen local residents met Thursday for a flag-raising ceremony at Amsterdam City Hall.

"These kids put their lives [at stake] and they had to give their lives," Ukrainian committee member Vira Dyakiv said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "This shows what we need to do."

Dyakiv said many of those protesters were young people who still believed they could one day have a life in Ukraine similar to America's. They died, she said, for the future of their motherland.

"One day we will have our payback," Dyakiv said. "One day we will have our independence."

City Historian Robert von Hasseln said a few words on behalf of the city and Mayor Ann Thane, who was in a budget meeting at the time of the ceremony.

"These are not good times right now," von Hasseln admitted, "but better times lay ahead. The Ukrainian people will come back. They will protect their identity."

Von Hasseln said he had been asked why the Ukrainian flag, which now flies next to the American flag near the entrance of City Hall, wasn't flown at half staff when the protesters were killed a little more than a month ago.

He said it is against international law to fly a flag of another country -- as long as it's representing a free and recognized nation -- lower than the American flag.

"When ours is up, so is yours," von Hasseln said.

The small audience thanked him.

This Saturday, the same group, including von Hasseln, will host a roundtable forum for the community to ask questions and to refute Putin's claims. It will begin at 11 a.m. at the Amsterdam Free Library.

Swidersky said he will discuss Ukraine's history, too. Capital District Ukrainian Congress Committee President Andriy Baran will also participate.

     

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