Topeka, Kan. — A group of Kansas lawmakers stood at attention on the steps of the Capitol Thursday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The bipartisan group stood with their hands over their hearts as the Ukrainian national anthem played over a loudspeaker.
A trio of University of Kansas students from Ukraine stood nearby. One, Elina Shutova, wiped tears from her eyes.
Shutova and Mykola Hordiichuk were featured speakers at a rally organized by a group of lawmakers to show solidarity with Ukraine as it fights to repel an invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Both are 19 and are in their third year studying business at KU.
“I am heartbroken to see my hometown Kherson being attacked by Russians … who kill civilians,” Shutova said.
Shutova said family members told her children were burned this week while hiding in the basement of a neighborhood school destroyed by Russian bombs.
“We need support from the United States and European Union countries,” Shutova said. “Please close the sky and continue your sanctions against the terrorist country.”
Hordichuk is from Uman, a historic city of about 100,000 in central Ukraine.
“My hometown has been mercilessly bombed by Russia,” Hordiichuck said. “My heart is heavy.”
Though communicating with his family is difficult, Hordiichuck said he does his best to check on their safety. The last time he talked to his parents he learned they were collecting bottles for Molotov cocktails.
“My grandparents are making bread at night to feed soldiers in the morning,” he said. “This is not life. This is survival.”
Both Hordiichuck and Shutova ended their remarks with “glory to Ukraine,” a salute to their home country popularized by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Lawmakers have introduced Kansas House and Senate resolutions condemning Russia’s “unprovoked attack on the people of Ukraine.”
At the rally, Rep. Boog Highberger, a Lawrence Democrat, concluded a reading of the resolution by declaring in Ukrainian, “Ukraine will prevail.”
Rep. Clark Sanders, a Salina Republican, said Democrats and Republicans at the Statehouse are united in their condemnation of the Russian invasion and their admiration for the “courage and resolve” of the Ukrainian people.
“Putin needs to get the hell out of Ukraine, now,” Sanders shouted.
Jim McLean is the senior correspondent for the Kansas News Service. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks or email jim (at) kcur (dot) org.
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