RUSSIA + UKRAINE

Hundreds of Utahns show support to Ukraine on Capitol steps during ‘Stand With Ukraine’ rally

Feb 28, 2022, 8:45 PM | Updated: Mar 2, 2022, 4:27 pm
Alexandra V. and Dima P. hold a sign during a prayer to support Ukraine at the Capitol in Salt Lake...
Alexandra V. and Dima P. hold a sign during a prayer to support Ukraine at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)
(Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utahns by the hundreds came to the Capitol steps Monday evening to show their support for the people of Ukraine.  State leaders say they needed to send a message rebuking the Russian invasion, and they’re looking into other ways they can make an impact on the global superpower.

Ukrainian colors light up the Capitol

The Ukrainian flag flies over the Capitol complex. And the building has been lit with blue and yellow lights in honor of the people of Ukraine.  State officials say this is only the second time-colored lights have been placed on the building in state history.  The first was during the 2002 Olympic Games. 

For only the second time in Utah history, the Capitol is lit with special lights to honor Ukraine on Feb. 28, 2022. (Paul Nelson/KSL NewsRadio)

Before that, lawmakers lined the Capitol steps, holding blue and yellow sheets to recreate a Ukrainian flag.  People chanted slogans like “No War” and “Ukraine-Utah,” and those that knew the words sang along with the Ukrainian national anthem.

Governor Spencer Cox called the gathering “breathtaking.”

Speaking to Russians living in Utah and overseas, Governor Spencer Cox said, “We do not hold you responsible for the acts of a madman,” adding, “You’re putting your own lives at risk to stand up to a dictator.”

Ukranians in Utah still nervous for their families living abroad

Ukranian native Natasha Plett was draped in the flag of her home country while she was at the rally.  She said even with all of Vladimir Putin’s posturing, she was still surprised to see him launch an all-out invasion.  Plett still has family in Ukraine. She’s fortunate enough, however, to be able to speak to them several times a day.

She said, “They’re far from where the intense fighting is going on, but they’ve already had air raid sirens go of many times, in their city.”

Plett was one of many Ukrainian and Russian immigrants who attended the rally.  She said it’s heartwarming to see how much support is being given to her home country.

“It’s just very touching to see the support and it just brings tears to your eyes to see how the whole world stands with Ukraine, in every corner of the world,” she said.

Utahns support Ukraine

Special lights and large rallies may be one way of showing support. However, Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson says the state is considering other ways they can push back against Russia.  She said leaders are extremely concerned with what they’ve seen from Putin since the invasion began.

“To have a global superpower invade a sovereign nation is not only disturbing, but it has broader implications for freedom and democracy, in general,” she said.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity has been instructed to look into all of the current economic ties between Utah and Russia. And they’ll consider ones they could possibly cut.  Henderson isn’t certain if this will have a major impact on the foreign country. However, it could affect oil and gas production.

Henderson said, “Our economic ties might be small.  This might not be super meaningful to the pocketbooks of the Russian government, necessarily, but it is symbolic.”

International sports organizations are banning Russia from participating in major events because of the invasion.  FIFA has banned that country from taking part in the 2022 World Cup, and officials from the IOC have told organizers not to allow Russian or Belarusian athletes to compete in Olympic qualifying tournaments.

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Hundreds of Utahns show support to Ukraine on Capitol steps during ‘Stand With Ukraine’ rally