Russian and Jewish communities in Utah show support for Ukraine, condemn Russian invasion

Feb 24, 2022, 7:39 PM | Updated: Mar 2, 2022, 10:07 am
People at the base of the Utah State Capitol, protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Februar...
People at the base of the Utah State Capitol, protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. (Paul Nelson/KSL NewsRadio)
(Paul Nelson/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — A show of support for Ukraine by members of both the Russian and Jewish communities of Utah.  People from both sides say they don’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to justify the invasion. 

Russian and Jewish communities come together

At the base of the Utah State Capitol, a few dozen Russians and Ukrainians living in Utah waved Ukrainian flags as their way to protest the attacks.  The small rally was organized by Suren Bubeev, who fled from Siberia two years ago.  He believes Putin’s economic policies made poverty worse in Siberia, and Putin harshly punished anyone who spoke out against him.

Recently, Putin has claimed a “genocide” was happening to ethnic Russians in the Donbas Region of Ukraine, which has been refuted by many international leaders.  Bubeev says things have not always been good for Russians in Ukraine, but an invasion is the wrong way to fix that kind of problem.

He said, “There were some bad things happening inside Ukraine, but this is not a reason for starting a war.”

(People at the small rally at the capitol say they plan to return Friday and Saturday. Photo: Paul Nelson)

Bubeev says Putin could have tried several options before considering any kind of attack.  He says sanctions could have been placed against Ukraine for potentially mistreating ethnic Russians. Or, Putin could have made sweeping changes to immigration rules to let those people leave that country.

“If you want to protect people you may take them from Ukraine to Russia,” he said.

In the end, Bubeev doesn’t believe Putin is trying to protect people.  He believes Putin wants to return Russia to the power it had under the old Soviet Union.

Bubeev said, “Ukraine had its own borders, a borderline that was acknowledged by other countries by international law.  Putin broke that law.”

Some people, from the Russian and Jewish communities in Utah, who took part in the protest at the capitol say demonstrators will return on Friday and Saturday to show support for the Ukrainian people.

Jewish community raising money for Ukrainian Jews

Members of Utah’s Jewish community are in the middle of a fundraising effort to help Jews in Ukraine either get to safety or flee the country.  Ron Zamir with the United Jewish Federation of Utah says people can go to their website, click on the “donate” icon and put the word “Ukraine” in the notes.

Zamir is also pushing back on Putin’s claims that he’s trying to rid Ukraine of Nazis.  He says the Russian president has tried to make this claim in the past, but it’s simply not true.

“Putin has been using the claim of ‘denazification’ since 2014 since his proxy leader of Ukraine was kicked out in democratic elections,” Zamir said.

He believes Putin is ignoring several factors in making this claim.  First, he says Russia was actually aligned with Germany before the Nazis invaded Russia in WW2.  He also says Putin is ignoring the fact that Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is Jewish.  Zamir says Putin is trying to convince people in his own country that the invasion is justified.

Zamir said, “He’s using [denazification] again as a way to mobilize the Russian people who have a very deep memory of the horrors of the Nazi invasion of Russia.”

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Russian and Jewish communities in Utah show support for Ukraine, condemn Russian invasion