Local Ukrainian community watches violence unfold back home




Posted on February 19, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 at 7:01 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--There is a small community of Ukrainians in the Spokane area. Some of those people left Ukraine and came to the U.S. for religious freedom.

People in that community still have close ties to their home country and are concerned about what they have seen from thousands of miles away.

The disturbing images that have come out of Ukraine in February are hard to watch for those who are originally from that country.

READ: Ukraine president, protest leaders agree on truce

Protest leaders in Ukraine are seeking to keep Ukraine open to Europe and out of a close political and economic alliance with Russia.

"It was great concern of ours to see Ukraine, like last night all in flames,” said World Relief Employee Dmitri Chaban.

Chaban came to the U.S. in 1989 because it was not safe for members of his church to stay in Ukraine.

"It was real shock, we don't want our people to be killed,” said Chaban about the images of violence coming out of Ukraine.    

Chaban said he is worried about his country. He said he cannot think of another event as violent as the events in February since he left the country more than 20 years ago.

The latest bout of street violence began Tuesday when protesters attacked police lines and set fires outside parliament, accusing Ukraine’s president of ignoring their demands to enact constitutional reforms that would limit the president's power -- a key opposition demand.

"It was here and there, kind of small clashes but this is a big one.We don't like it,” said Chaban.

Chaban said he is concerned for his family and those back in the Ukraine. They told him people inside the country are unsure how the violence will end.

"We don't know what to expect, we don't know what to happen,” said Chaban.

Chaban said he was last in Ukraine four years ago. He said he does not have any plans to visit right now but would not even consider traveling there given the violence he has seen.