Kiev protesters get support in Michigan Avenue rally
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter February 19, 2014 11:24PM
Demonstrators hold rally near Chicago's Water Tower Wednesday night to show solidarity with protesters in Kiev. Photo by Mitch Dudek
Updated: February 20, 2014 2:47PM
Dan Diaczun wishes he were in Kiev, Ukraine, to throw tires and other rubbish on the giant bonfires protesters lit this week to serve as a barrier from police.
But he lives in Ukrainian Village on Chicago’s Near West Side.
“If I could, I’d help anyway I could,” said Diaczun, 27, who was born in the U.S., but has roots in Ukraine.
Diaczun and nearly 300 protesters came together Wednesday night outside the Water Tower on Michigan Avenue to show solidarity with the protesters in Kiev who have been killed or injured in their struggle to force out Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
“We came out here because in our country right now there are massive riots and police beatings and police killing people who just came out to protest peacefully,” said Stanley Syerov, a 26 year-old electrical engineer from Elmwood Park who moved to Chicago 13 years ago from Western Ukraine.
Holding candles and waving gold and blue Ukrainian flags, the group prayed and sang the Ukrainian national anthem as curious onlookers strolled slowly past along Michigan Avenue.
In Kiev, at least 25 people have been killed this week, including nine police officers.
The protesters in Chicago marched to the office of the Ukrainian Consulate General near Huron and State where they chanted “Get rid of the corrupt bandits! Kick them out!” and “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”
Protesters in Ukraine have called for Yanukovych to step down after reneging on an aid deal that aligned the country with western nations in favor of joining an agreement with Russia.
Harsh laws aimed at curtailing protests followed, only serving to galvanize thousands of people who took to the streets.
“Our hearts are being torn apart as we suffer for our brothers and sisters who are right now in Ukraine trying to fight for democracy there,” said Olga Koshyk, a stay-at-home mom from Ukrainian Village.