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Local Ukrainian community ‘speechless’ and ‘in shock’ after Russia invades

Community leaders across Oregon and Southwest Washington are working on a plan to send local medical supplies overseas.

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Yuri Boyechko grew up in the western Ukrainian city of L’viv.

Under the Soviet Union, his family was persecuted, he said, for their religion.

Eventually, in 1997 he moved from Ukraine to the U.S., and in 2000 he settled in Oregon.

Boyechko, now the publisher of Kahoh Magazine, a Ukrainian-language community publication, told KGW News on Thursday the events of the last 24 hours, half a world away, have left him in disbelief.

“I’m still in shock. I’m still speechless,” Boyechko said.

“I still cannot put myself together,” he said, adding he hadn’t slept overnight.

His sentiment of being rattled to his core by a multi-pronged Russian invasion of his homeland was echoed in Vancouver by Pastor Paul Demyanik with the Ukrainian Baptist Church.

“We are broken tonight,” Demyanik said late Wednesday.  “It’s really tough for us.”

Many in the local Ukrainian community, with numbers in the high tens of thousands, still have family in Ukraine, local leaders said. 

Demyanik’s closest connection is his brother-in-law, Andrew Vasylenko, a father of four who lives in the capital, Kyiv, and was planning to help the Dutch company he works for deliver vehicles to the Ukrainian military.

“At this moment, it’s more panic,” Vesylenko said. 

“I really hope that there will be more support given to Ukraine. Also, to be honest, it’s too late,” he added.

Boyechko and Demyanik are used to feeling uncertain about their home country. After all, conflict has brewed in eastern regions bordering Russia for nearly a decade.

They’ve also become pros at raising funds to ship donated medical supplies from Oregon to wherever they’re needed.

In the past, Boyechko said, they could send a shipping container for around $20,000.

Now, because of airport closures, supply chain disruptions and a run on banks, they don’t know where to start.

Community leaders were meeting Thursday afternoon to work on a plan to raise funds and tackle the logistical challenges.

Demyanik also said he plans to hold a special prayer service Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Fairview.

“We will just pray and see what happens,” he said.

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