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Ukrainians in Treasure Valley show support for their homeland amid Russian invasion

Several people came to the Idaho Capitol steps Thursday afternoon with signs, Ukrainian flags and messages of support for Ukraine.

BOISE, Idaho — Russia's invasion of Ukraine is felt by many across Idaho, especially for those who have ties back to the country. Idahoans who have family and friends who lived in Ukraine, previously lived there themselves, or wanted to show support for the country, met at the Idaho Capitol steps Thursday.

"I am protesting the Russian aggression against Ukraine," said Igor Solodovnik who is from Ukraine.

Solodovnik said he wasn't sure who would be in attendance of Thursday's afternoon rally at the Idaho statehouse, but appreciated the people who did join him with signs and Ukrainian flags.

Solodovnik had several messages for Idahoans and people in the United States, like asking people to help donate funds and support the Ukrainian military.

"We don't have any defensive weapon to defend ourselves," Solodovnik said. "We are not going to ask people to fight for us, we are going to fight for ourselves. We just need help with the weapons."

Solodovnik moved to Idaho four years ago with his wife and son. He still has family in Ukraine, including his parents and brother who live in Kyiv where shelling has been reported.  He said his mother evacuated the city, but his brother and father stayed to help defend their country, which he said they've described as a "war zone" right now.

"My 73-year-old father is fighting and he told me, 'I will never go away from here. I will stay here for the last drop of my blood,'" Solodovnik said. He added he feels frustrated because he is not able to help them.

Others in attendance also feel anger and grief for their family in Ukraine.

"They're scared. My mom is a medical worker and she can't just run because she needs to serve people," said Alona Novokhatmia who moved to the U.S. three and half years ago.

The conflict between the two countries can be traced back decades with armed tensions in more recent years. Novokhatmia said she was able to visit Ukraine last year and she remembers the Russian military there. She pleads for them to leave her home country.

"We don't need protection," Novokhatmia said about the Russian government. "We don't need all this dark sky right now and living in fear. Please do not protect Ukraine from Ukraine."

As Novokhatmia held a sign that said "stop war," she reiterated to KTVB she doesn't want any military conflict in her home country and would like Russian President Vladimir Putin's misinformation about helping Ukraine come to an end.

"I just want people in the world to understand what's going on," said Novokhatmia. "We don't need any protections just get out of our land and don't touch our people."

Others at the demonstration wanted to stand in solidarity, raise awareness, and hope for peace for the country.

"We just ask for prayers for the safety of the people that are there right now," said Jeff Jack.

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