Portland responds to Ukraine

Across the world, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked outrage. Oregon is no exception; according to recent census numbers, more than 20,000 Oregonians and 60,000 Washingtonians report having Ukrainian ancestry. In the US, Oregon is ranked 3rd for the highest percentage of its population that speaks Ukrainian at home, and Washington ranks 1st. Across the state, Ukrainian-American protesters and other supporters have shown up in large numbers to voice their support for the country. 

One of the largest protests in Oregon so far was held in Fairview on Monday, Feb. 28. Over 1,000 protesters gathered at the Ukrainian Bible Church, praying and working to raise funds to send to Ukraine. 

“We want to do whatever we can do for our people, for our nation, for our brothers and sisters, for whoever is left in Ukraine,” said Dorel Mafty, one of the pastors, according to KPTV News. “We can pray because that’s the most powerful weapon in the world.”

The night before, at the Saint John Baptist Orthodox Church in Portland, Father Volodymyr Yavorskyi led a worship service in honor of those killed in Ukraine. Yavorskyi moved to the US eight years ago. His family stayed in Ukraine. He said that the majority of the 160 members of the church have friends and family still in Ukraine, and worry for their safety. 

“It’s really bothering me; really bothering me that I am here and not in Ukraine helping people,” OPB reported Yavorskyi saying.

On Saturday, Feb 26, another gathering was held in Downtown Portland, organized by the Ukrainian-American Cultural Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Over 200 supporters attended the “Support Ukraine, Stop Putin” rally at the Salmon Street Springs Foundation. 

Russian-Americans in Oregon have also shown their support for Ukraine in the past week. Saturday, Feb 26, a crowd gathered outside of Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland. This rally was sponsored by Oregonians of Russian descent who are against Putin’s invasion. 

The most awful things in the world, they happen in silence when people are silent,” Alexei, a man attending the rally, told KOIN 6 News. “I don’t want to be silent. I want to speak out and say Russian people are against this war.”

In northern Portland, Multnomah County arranged for the Morrison bridge to change the color of its lights to yellow and blue in solidarity with Ukraine from Feb 28-March 6. 

These recent events have caused much distress throughout the world, but it has also drawn many together. Yelena Kolova immigrated to the US from Ukraine at 7 years old. “I just assumed no one cared about Ukraine,” she told Oregon Live. “People are paying attention to what’s happening.”