Denver metro community rallies to mark one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“Here we are celebrating the one-year moment, showing that we are still resilient, that we’re strong,” said one event organizer.
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Colorado’s Ukrainian community and their supporters met to protest Russia’s war in their country at the Colorado State Capitol. Feb. 25, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Blue and yellow were on full display in front of the State Capitol Saturday. Ukraine's national anthem and other traditional songs were heard loud and clear.

Over 100 people gathered for a rally to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The event was organized by Ukranians of Colorado.

Oksana Lewicki holds a flag as Colorado's Ukrainian community and their supporters met to protest Russia's war in their country at the Colorado State Capitol. Feb. 25, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

"Here we are celebrating the one-year moment, showing that we are still resilient, that we're strong, and that we are standing here, and that we are not going anywhere," said Lana Fenkanyan, one of the event's organizers and social media coordinator for Ukranians of Colorado. "It's just a message to show that we are united and that we will continue to be united as time goes on."

The rally featured speakers from metro Denver's Ukrainian community and their supporters. One of those speakers was Nataliya Zasadko who immigrated from Ukraine in 2006.

Tony Gorman/CPR News

"I'm very humbled and very honored that all these people showed up. We have people from different nationalities come in and show their support to Ukraine and Ukrainians," Zasadko said.  "So that's very heartwarming and I'm thankful to everyone and each of them for coming here on this day."

Zasadko, who earned a biology degree with a minor in chemistry and a dentistry degree from CU-Anschutz, said both of her children were born in the United States but she still has family members in her home country. Zasadko said they are safe, but remain in constant danger.

"My mom, every day she has to hide in a bunker for six hours a day. They only get electricity three, four hours a day, um, every other day," Zasadko said. "So for them, she says they're safe and they're comfortable, But for us, of course, we would not consider that a sufficient level of life."

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Analysts estimate about 300,000 have died in the latest chapter in an ongoing conflict that began in 2014. Metro Denver is home to between 20,000 to 30,000 Ukrainians. Many more have come over as refugees.

Fenkanyan says the metro Denver has been very supportive to the Ukrainian refugees since the invasion.

"We have not gotten any hate or anger, if anything, people have shown us love and care," Fenkanyan said. "Denver itself provides English classes for refugees. So, that way when they get here, they're able to communicate.  And, we're working on our community to help them find jobs as well."

Ukrainians of Colorado have remained involved with the community since the invasion. They recently spoke to members of Congress on the invasion's anniversary. They also have a program to help children who became orphans during the ongoing conflict.

The organization plans to hold more fundraisers and other events to support those affected by the war. A Ukrainian Market Fair will be held at the Retreat at the Solterra in Lakewood on April 1 and their Ukrainian Festival will be held on Aug. 19 at Belmar Park in Lakewood.

Leela Radchenko, who was born in Ukraine but now lives in Colorado, attends a protest of Russia's war in her country with Masha (8), who she said is a recently arrived refugee from Ukraine. Feb. 25, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Mojgan Taherynia (right) came to the Capitol to protest the government in Iran, where she's from, but said Ukraine's struggle against Russia is interconnected and that she wanted to show her support as local Ukrainians protest one year since their country was invaded. Feb. 25, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

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