Ukrainians in Northeast Ohio prepare to mark somber anniversary of Russian invasion

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 4:28 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - On Friday, Ukrainians living in Northeast Ohio will join the rest of the world in marking the somber anniversary of Russia’s invasion. Several events are planned in the Cleveland area, including a gathering at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.

“People are doing everything they can. We have to keep doing it. We don’t know what small act is going to make a difference and I think people in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio really feel that,” said Joe Cimperman, president of Global Cleveland.

The organization is asking businesses and residents to illuminate their homes and storefronts in blue and yellow after sunset on Thursday and Friday to show support for Ukraine.

On Saturday, a prayer service will begin at 5:00 p.m. at St. Vladimir’s in Parma, which is located at 5913 State Rd.

Cimperman estimated about 5,000 Ukrainians now call Northeast Ohio home, with 30 families arriving last month and more expected in the near future.

Just before Russia invaded Ukraine, Valeria Kyryienko left her hometown of Kyiv to live with family in North Royalton.

In May of last year, she spoke to 19 News about her journey.

“It’s so hard [to] realize you will not come back to your normal life,” Kyryienko said.

It was around that time that she started teaching yoga as a fundraiser for the people of Ukraine.

She still lives in North Royalton and is now teaching on a regular basis.

“It takes time to get adjusted to a completely new society,” she told 19 News on Tuesday. “It’s like a different world.”

But she’s always thinking of her friends and family back home.

“I cannot imagine it, but it’s their reality now. It’s terrible,” she said.