Ukrainian-Americans in our area come together at a Watervliet church after government protests turned deadly earlier this week. Our Barry Wygel reports.
WATERVLIET, N.Y. -- As the sound of revolution rang in the streets of Kiev, the sound of prayers and remembrance were heard in Watervliet. Parishioners of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church gathered on Sunday to remember the victims of the violence in Kiev, and to pray for peace.
As John Fil prayed alongside his fellow church-goers, his thoughts are a little different. While the rest of the congregation watched the violence unfold on television and on the internet, Fil witnessed it first hand.
"I made reservations to go back to Kiev on January 10, assuming everything would be over. Sure enough, when I came, it was beginning," said Fil.
He stayed in Kiev for almost a month, and said it was an experience he will never forget.
"The funny thing is, when you are there from a distance, you see the smoke, fire, the bombs, you say, 'oh my gosh', but then you go closer, you feel like you are part of it. When you go closer, you don't feel afraid anymore," said Fil.
Fil was just one of the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who took to the streets in the latest uprising against a sitting head of state.
"You just try to participate, support the people. The Ukrainian people came in front of them. They have bombs, they have ammunition. We have nothing. We have sticks," said Fil.
More than 80 people were killed during the demonstrations that ended this weekend with the removal of President Yanukovych. The people who gathered in the name of the demonstrators killed say their hearts and minds will forever be with their countrymen.
"We support them. We support them financially. We support them spiritually. Together it is a team. I am Ukrainian. You feel like you have to do your part. Even though I didn't fight, I was there," said Fil.
The people gathered Sunday at St. Nicholas welcomed the news that a change in government is underway. They say they hope new elections for a permanent president will take place as soon as possible so that life in Ukraine can get back to normal.