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From bands to demonstrators, groups gather in Cleveland to support Ukraine

“What’s happening now is just a travesty, it’s a genocide. We’re here to raise as much support as we possibly can," says Areta Zachary.

CLEVELAND — Multiple groups came together in Cleveland Saturday to show their support for Ukraine. From a large rally downtown to a group of musicians rehearsing, they’re all hoping to have an impact on people going through a difficult time some 5,000 miles away.

“We need the dialog to start happening, we need to stop this war, we have to stop this nonsense,” says Adnriy Voyetskiy, the organizer of the downtown rally.

He says it means a lot that hundreds of people showed up in Cleveland to march in solidary for Ukraine, but the country needs more.

“Everybody supports Ukraine, all the nations, they come out and they say it but talk is cheap,” says Voyetskiy. “I mean, we need more.”

The group collected donations to send emergency supplies to citizens, now fearing for their lives.

“We’re sending supplies, we’re sending medicines, we’re sending all kinds of things that we can but that’s not enough to fight what they’re fighting,” says Areta Zachary, a participant in the rally.

Meanwhile across town, a national Ukrainian band with roots dating back to 1918 and made up of about 45 musicians from all over the United States and Canada held a rehearsal.

“The music that we collectively, as a nationality, have is extremely powerful,” says Mykola Murskyj, an instrumentalist and archivist for The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America.

The male choir is intertwined with the national Ukrainian instrument, the bandura. Some of the members were born in Ukraine, others have family or heritage there. Although they don’t have any performances scheduled, they’re beginning to change up their repertoire to prepare to support Ukrainians everywhere with a slice of native music.

“I think it’s very important for the Ukrainian people to hear their songs,” says Oleh Mahlay, artistic director and conductor of The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America. “Many of our songs are inspirational. They speak of history and speak of overcoming difficult times.”

Ukrainians and supporters from all over the country are banding together in northeast Ohio, all asking for freedom for their people.

“What’s happening now is just a travesty, it’s a genocide,” says Zachary. “We’re here to raise as much support as we possibly can.”

Mahlay says, “It’s important for us to support them and do whatever we can to make sure that Ukraine stays free and the bandura gets to play on for the entire world.”

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