Native Ukrainians, supporters gather in Norfolk to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine

ukraine protest february 25 2022
Posted at 1:32 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 13:45:46-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Ukrainian flags flew with signs reading "Stand With Ukraine" high in the air. The Ukrainian national anthem ringing out from Norfolk's Town Point Park.

Friday morning, dozens gathered to rally in support of Ukraine and to ask for help as the eastern European country continues to fight against an ongoing invasion from neighboring Russia.

Many who came out to the roughly 90-minute gathering were Ukraine natives with family and friends still in the country.

"We can't fight alone, you know? Our people are brave. They're dying there for their land, for their language, for their traditions, for their families, okay? Please, share that with the world and send us some help," said Oleksandr Humen, who now lives in Virginia Beach.

Protesters quickly moved out of the park and to adjacent Waterside Drive where they received honks of support from people driving by.

Humen and others on site told News 3 they want to see the U.S. and other countries put into place stronger sanctions against Russia with immediate effect. They're also hoping to see supplies delivered to sheltering and injured family and friends.

But Ukrainians weren't alone at the gathering; Pavel Akimushkin tells News 3 he lives in Norfolk now, but grew up in Russia just a six-hour drive from the Ukrainian border.

"What's happening over there is absolutely terrible," Akmushkin said before grabbing a sign in support of Ukraine. "The disinformation by the Russian government about what's happening in Russia right now. I've spoken with some of my friends, my relatives in Russia and the way they've been prepped for this conflict... It's just mindblowing what they believe."

The voices rallying in Norfolk were hoping to break through any misinformation. People desperate to do something while thousands of miles away from a home under attack.