DENVER — Coloradans with close ties to the violence in the Ukraine come together Thursday night to pray for an end to the bloodshed.
Thursday marked the deadliest day yet of the three-month battle between protestors and the government.
It’s a political crisis resonating more than 5,600 miles away.
Dozens packed inside Our Lord Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the 4100 block of Shoshone for a prayer vigil and memorial for the dead and injured during a violent protest for freedom and change.
They pray for Ukraine in a language, for some, that is not their own.
“I have family there on my mother’s and father’s side. At this point, there’s no communication,” says Stefan Kruszelnyckyj, a first-generation American.
He says his Ukrainian family is caught in the middle of a bloody crisis that’s mushroomed into calls for constitutional reforms and shifting power away from the president.
“It would be the same thing if you were turning on the TV and seeing what’s going on and realizing your relatives are now being fired upon. The last time you saw them as teenagers and now they’re fighting for their country,” says Kruszelnyckyj.
The prayers also come away from the church.
“I am from Kiev, Ukraine. I came to United States in 1996,” says former Ukrainian Lidia Widgery.
She runs Little Europe Restaurant on S. Parker Road in Denver.
It’s American opportunity she knows her fellow countrymen now fight for—and they should not have to die for it.
“The president should stop this anyway. If they (government) cannot stop by themselves, they (government) should ask for help, because killing people is just the worst thing,” she says.
The protestors and government have agreed to two truces that have gone nowhere. Instead, Thursday was the most lethal day in Ukraine since its independence from the former Soviet Union 22 years ago.
So, Kruszelnyckyj and others come to help their families and friends, so far away, the only way they know how—through prayer.
They hope for peace, for resolution, and for a government to stop slaughtering its own.
“There are fellow countrymen killing fellow countrymen. Ukrainian against Ukrainian. That’s not right,” he says.
There’s a proposal in front of Ukraine’s president for elections this year and revisions to the constitution by this summer.