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Capital Region residents come together for Ukraine vigil in Cohoes

The city of Cohoes and its Ukrainian community held a prayer vigil Monday night.

As dusk fell on the Spindle City, religious leaders, elected officials and community members gathered on the street in front of city hall for a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with Ukraine. Some held flags, others wore ribbons bearing Ukraine’s yellow and blue colors pinned onto their clothing, holding candles or shining phone flashlights to express solidarity with Ukraine.

Dr. Andrij Baran, a cardiologist, chairs the Capital Region chapter of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, and is a trustee of St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic church in Cohoes.

"Oh what pictures we have seen," Baran said. "The human misery, the callous indifference to human life. It is astounding that any man and any nation could be capable of this outrage. An outrage that was just unthinkable a few weeks ago. Yet here it is. And here we are."

Father Mikhail Myshchuk of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Watervliet has two brothers and a sister still living in Ukraine.

"So you know I speak with them every day via text messages... they still have internet there so we are able to communicate," said Myshchuk. And I spoke with my sister this morning, she says it was was very scary, they were in a basement for like five hours starting at 3 o'clock in the morning until later in the, later in the morning like 8 or 9. So it's no joke. It's very scary. It's hard to believe that the entire world cannot do much you know because one lunatic has a nuclear weapon and he can dictate the entire world agenda."

108th district state Assemblymember John McDonald, a Democrat and former Cohoes mayor, notes the city has a large Ukrainian population.

"When you go door to door and you meet with people, the hospitality, the kindness, because individuals like the Ukraine's, they came from an oppressed nation," McDonald said. "They came to America for freedom, and they respect it. I still see it day in and day out. And I think that that's something that we should we as those who have been Americans for a bit of time, we kind of take it for granted. Unfortunately, this is another, another direct reminder of how we have so many freedoms, and we need to we need to cherish them, and we need to share them."

Baran doesn't mince words on behalf of Ukraine

"No degree of sanctions will influence a populace, half of which have outhouses for plumbing. There's only one way to stop this beast, and that is with force and fortitude. Force is the only thing the Russian beast respects and fears," Baran said. "To do this, our leaders must be resolute and brave. They must not telegraph their intentions in advance. They must not remove cards from the table they may never have to need to play. Ukrainian boys are dying today, so that American boys don't have to die tomorrow. All Ukraine asks is to give her the means to do so. Protect Ukraine from the air. If you don't do it yourself, give her the jets that are rusting on your airfields so she can do the job for you. You say fear that you fear antagonizing Putin by the transfer of jets. Well, Putin likes history. Remind him of the endless MiGs Russia sent to North Vietnam to shoot down our boys. Not only the MiGs, they sent in Russian pilots with them too. Payback's a bitch."

Baran suggests all countries cut off Russian oil shipments and Russian banks be dropped immediately from the international SWIFT system.

49th district Republican state Senator Jim Tedisco says his call to fellow lawmakers to stand up together for and with the Ukrainian people is falling on deaf ears.

"And I'm a little disappointed in my colleagues in the New York State Senate, because I think on every level, local, state and federal, there should be resolution and every individual Democrat, Republican no matter what affiliation, you are, should be standing up through resolution saying 'we stand with Ukraine in the citizens of Ukraine’ by resolution," Tedisco said. "I sponsored the resolution. I brought it tonight. They won't bring it to the floor of the New York State Senate. And that's a darn shame. If we do anything as a group of people. You know, we disagree on a lot of issues. We have some heavy debates. There should be no debate on Republicans and Democrats standing up on the Senate floor and passing a resolution that says we stand for freedom and liberty in the nation of Ukraine."

The vigil closed with the singing of the American and Ukrainian national anthems.

The vigil closed with the singing of the American and Ukrainian national anthems.
Dave Lucas
The vigil closed with the singing of the American and Ukrainian national anthems.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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