Hoping to send a message loud enough for the Kremlin to hear, hundreds of enraged New Yorkers and anti-war protesters marched through the Upper East Side Thursday in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Echoes of “Putin is a killer!” “Stop Putin Now,” and “Hands off Ukraine!” could be heard reverberating amidst the gold and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag along 67th Street and Third Avenue.
But even more than anger, protesters exhibited anguish over the horrific act of war. Many of those who hit the streets on Feb. 24 became emotional, weeping as the worries for family and friends back in their homeland bubbled to a boiling point.
Alla Nikolus burst into tears, feeling helpless as she watches clips of her native country being ravaged by rockets. Her family still resides in Kyiv, bearing the brunt of the battle.
“Russia cruelly invaded Ukraine, and there were just explosions all over the country. Nobody knows what is going to happen at night. We are just trying to do what we have to do,” said Nikolus, a Ukrainian immigrant who’s lived in New York for four years.
Nikolus said she is still thankfully able to still communicate with her family.
“There is no disruption in connection, but nobody knows what is going to happen. They are in Kyiv, and Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine. I want to show this is not right. This is not right, I can’t do anything but this,” said Nikolus.
Julia Nesterova is an artist and filmmaker from Russia, who now resides in New York City, so when she woke up and heard about the attack on Ukraine, she had to step out and stand up for what she believed was right.
“I have a lot of Ukrainian friends and I have Ukrainian relatives; my grandmother is Ukrainian. It’s very sad for me to hear this news and that we are going to war against each other. So, I decided to show support with this [painting] to symbolize Russia and Ukraine,” Nesterova said, holding up her small paintings.
Nesterova shared that she worries for her friends in the Ukraine and has been told that many of their children have fled the country and were sent to Central Russia to protect them from the rockets and missiles being launched.
Protesters marched through the streets carrying a massive Ukrainian flag. The crowd took their message to the United Nations where they demanded Russia be exiled, boycotted, and called upon the United States for aid.