Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

‘They Want To Destroy Our People’: LA’s Ukrainian Community Reacts To Russian Invasion

A woman stands at an outdoor protest, hugging another person and holding a sign that reads: We Want Peace." Several men, including one holding a sign, stand behind them.
People gathered outside the U.S. Federal Building in Westwood on Thursday to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

It was a sea of yellow and blue outside the U.S. Federal Building in Westwood as hundreds of Ukraine supporters protested Russia’s invasion on Thursday.

Demonstrators arrived around 10 a.m. and sang the Ukrainian national anthem, raised signs above their heads as traffic honked in support, and chanted “No War In Ukraine!” and “Putin Go Home!”

Many in the crowd said they have lost a lot of sleep this week, as they try to keep in contact with family and friends living in Ukraine.

“We’re trying to stay sane,” said L.A. resident Evgenia Kornienko, who attended the protest with her dog, both of them wearing traditional Ukrainian garb, called Vyshyvanka.

Support for LAist comes from
A closeup of a woman looking to her right. She has a wry smile.
Evgenia Kornienko was at Thursday's protest.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)

Kornienko said she’d been up all night talking with family in Ukraine, including her mother.

“They are not doing good, they called me at their 5 a.m.,” Kornienko said. “While Vladimir Putin was talking, [my mom said] the shelling was nonstop.”

A political refugee who’s lived in the U.S. since 2014, Kornienko said she feels sorry for every Ukrainian. “I feel guilty that I’m here, but I’m doing whatever I can do,” she said.

Several people stand on the side of a busy urban street holding Ukrainian flags.
Speaking of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one Ukrainian Angeleno lamented “it’s [the] new history of Ukraine.”
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)
Support for LAist comes from

Maria Novichenkova said she’s been in L.A. for the past seven years or so. For her part, she’s trying to keep calm and not panic. She said she and her husband are also thinking about next steps.

“If a conflict will escalate more and if … sanctions are not working, my husband will join [the] military and I will join either ... medical crew or I will be [a] driver,” Novichenkova said. “I’m a good driver.”

Eugene Novoseletsky said his mother and grandmother are currently in Ukraine and he’s very worried for them. He didn’t mince words when talking about what he believes is happening there now.

“It’s direct war ... They want to occupy our country, they want to destroy our people, our culture and our language,” Novoseletsky said.

A bearded protester looks directly at the camera and in another photo is holding a sign that reads: "Mr. Biden, where is your sanctions?"
Eugene Novoseletsky was among the protesters at the Federal Building.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)
Support for LAist comes from

There were at least a few Russian Americans at the protest, too, who came to support their Ukrainian friends.

Gregory Franguridi said he was born in Moscow and believes the cost of protesting for Russians abroad is very high right now.

“We need to understand, even those thousands of people who have come out on the streets of Moscow and other Russian cities today are actually risking detention and jail time,” Franguridi said.

A male protester holds a microphone and addresses the crowd. He is wearing a t-shirt with a slogan that reads: "I Stand With Ukraine."
Gregory Franguridi was born in Russia and says he is worried about the anti-war protesters there.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)

L.A. resident Serhii Petruk said he too has family currently in Ukraine. “They are crying, [but] they are strong,” Petruk reported.

Support for LAist comes from

Petruk fought back his own tears as he spoke, holding a sign that read: “Save Ukraine.”

“Everybody understand ... something [has] gone wrong in this world right now,” Petruk said.

“It’s our history. Now,” he lamented, “it’s [the] new history of Ukraine.”

A large group of people with signs are gathered on a street corner. Behind them is the large Federal Building. Traffic is stopped at the light along side the street corner.
Los Angeles’s Ukrainian community gathered outside the U.S. Federal Building in Westwood to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)
What questions do you have about Southern California?