HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Ukrainian ex-pats now living in north Alabama are keeping a very close eye on the ongoing crisis in their native homeland.
Several local Ukraine natives still have friends and family members who have been put in danger by the ongoing violence. Sergiy Braylyan told WHNT News 19 that watching his birthplace spiral into violence and chaos has been tough to stomach.
“Ukraine is urging for help,” said Braylyan, who left Ukraine in 2001 and now works for an international trading company in Huntsville. “Unfortunately it ended up with violence…we want change. Absolutely, Ukraine needs political change.”
Braylyan’s parents and most other family members still live in Ukraine, which remains in a tug of war between political bosses loyal to Russia, and protestors who want to sever ties with their former rulers so they can establish closer relations with Europe and the West. Ukraine gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.
Dozens have been killed and hundreds wounded during demonstrations over the past week, but Braylyan said he was thankful that his family remains safe.
“We were concerned for quite a while,” said Braylyan. “It’s a pain looking at your friends, Ukrainian people, who with stones, bats and sticks are fighting with a power that has the army and police on their side.”
A deal struck on Friday means Ukrainians will have a chance to vote out the country’s pro-Russian president later this year, while restoring a constitution that will limit much of his authority. How long the latest accord will last remains to be seen.
“They [Ukrainians] couldn’t do economically what they wanted to do, they couldn’t do politically what they wanted to do,” said Braylyan. “Monopoly of the political office is damaging to the country.”