A group of churches in Lexington will hold a vigil Tuesday night to show support for Ukraine, as attendees hear from a Ukrainian woman who is trying to get her family out of the war-torn country, Reunited with her in America.
Maryna Teplova is a PhD student at Illinois State University. She teaches humanities at ISU and Illinois Wesleyan University. Teplova left Ukraine four years ago, but most of her family remains there. She said it was difficult to say how safe they were in the central-eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, where Russian bombs are falling more and more frequently in residential areas.
“I sometimes freak out when people ask me if it’s safe here. It looks like they’re safe right now, but who knows? You never know because unfortunately no one can predict when the Russian bombs drop. To this point,” Tepolva said in an interview with WGLT. Teplova said a bomb recently fell near where her daughter lives. Another landed near her cousin.
Shortly after the Russian invasion, Teplova’s daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter fled Ukraine for the Netherlands. They have to return to Ukraine to get passports to fly to the US Teplova and her husband are sponsoring them to the US They plan to take the train to Warsaw, Poland, and then fly to Chicago.
Teplova hopes they will arrive this week because she says it is time for them to leave Ukraine. “They’ve been there for three weeks, and now these explosions are starting, and they’re very close to where my daughter lives,” Teplova said. “It is very urgent now that they leave as soon as possible.”
Teplova still has extended family in Ukraine, including her 94-year-old grandmother and her cousin who was injured in the battle.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed much of eastern Ukraine, even as his own troops show signs of retreat. Putin claimed this was what the Ukrainian people living in the territories wanted, citing the overwhelming referendum results.
Teplova said the votes were fake. “First, (Russians) threaten people,” she said. “They did everything they could. They threatened to bring people to Russia if they didn’t take part in the referendum.”
Ukraine responded to Russia’s land grab by applying to join NATO’s fast track. Experts say the process could still take years.
Teplova said the United States has shown strong support for Ukraine, noting that she has seen and heard this from her own students. “They all asked me questions about my family and Ukraine, and they all verbally supported (Ukraine),” she said. “They said they just wanted to send me the message that they were praying for Ukraine. This is very comforting and important for Ukrainians.”
Teplova said she hoped NATO would strengthen the global alliance in support of Ukraine’s democracy.
Teplova will be holding a candlelight vigil at the Lexington Community Center on Tuesday at 6 p.m., sponsored by the Lexington Council of Churches of Christ.
“There is little that ordinary people can do about the Russian invasion, but everyone can still pray for an end to the bloodshed,” Council President Louis Daniel told a news conference.
Teplova said her message would be peaceful. She wants Ukraine to have its own culture and make itself independent.
“People who support Ukraine and do something strong against Putin because I think that’s the only way to fight against this tyrant, against this dictator,” she said. “Of course, he’s not the only representative of evil. He’s evil. main venue.”
Teplova said she also wants Ukraine to take back Crimea, part of the country Russia annexed in 2014. She said Putin underestimated the resolve of the Ukrainian people, adding that it was a pity that many in Russia did not see it that way. Teplova said she has a cousin who lives in Moscow and she embraced propaganda that Russia would somehow defend itself when it invaded its neighbors.
“In the first days of the war, I remember how he started writing to me, no, no, no, you don’t understand, this is not a war. They did nothing. It was your men who shot your own Citizens, Teplova said. “It’s what they hear on TV and they believe. “
Teplova said her cousin’s brother had to stop contacting him.
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