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Rally in Ashland to support Ukraine

Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio

Rouge Valley residents gathered in Ashland Thursday night to rally in support of Ukraine on the one-month anniversary of the invasion by Russian forces.

They may be halfway across the world, but those gathered in the Plaza in downtown Ashland share many connections with Ukrainians fleeing danger.

Around 50 people waved flags and signs encouraging oncoming traffic to support refugees stuck in the conflict.

Dasja Dolan was born in Czechoslovakia, and fled to Holland during the Soviet invasion in 1968.

“I got a text from a friend of mine, from my old schoolmate from when I was 14, and he says, 'I’m afraid that we’re gonna be invaded by Russia again' – and it’s very realistic there.”

Dolan helped to organize the rally, which followed a call for support from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

She says it’s important that Americans recognize the great freedoms afforded to them and fight to protect those democratic institutions.

Some participants have personal connections, including Faina Podolnaya, an Ashland-based violin teacher who grew up in Ukraine.

Podolnaya has been in close contact with her sister, who lives in Nuremberg, Germany, the sister city of besieged Ukrainian city Kharkiv.

“And she tells me all the stories, how people escape, how people die, how people try to get something for their kids. It’s just unbelievable.”

Podolnaya has been raising money with her sister to provide direct relief to Ukrainian refugees, by helping them resettle in other parts of Europe. Her Gofundme page has raised nearly $10,000 in less than a week.

Rally participants were met with streams of support from oncoming traffic through town. They said that ensuring folks remain knowledgeable about ongoing events and supporting refugees is vitally important.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.