Ukrainians who escaped the war to Alaska meet on Ukraine Independence Day

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – On Aug. 4, 1991, Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country.

Wednesday marked six months since Russia invaded Ukraine to start the current conflict. Normally, it’s a celebration for Ukrainians, but on this day, many are gathering to support those who are fighting, have fought or perished in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

At the New Chance Assembly of God Church near downtown Anchorage and Fairview, a gathering was held to celebrate Ukrainian traditions, food, music, and to pray for the war-torn country, all led by Pastor Sergey Llinitski.

“Normally a day celebrating the independence of Ukraine, this one will be of fellowship and prayer in support for those fighting and dying against the tyranny of Russian aggression,” said Llinitski.

The gathering will bring many Ukrainians under the same roof for the first time in Alaska.

“This is that first big celebration, that we’re putting them all in one room and having a big celebration, they’re all meeting,” Zori Opanasevych said. Opanasevych is the executive director of the Ukraine Relief Project.

Valentin Tikhiy and Tetiana Tikha are just two of the hundreds of refugees that have been helped by the Ukraine Relief Project in Alaska. They arrived just six days ago and they say they already think Alaska is amazing. Even while their home country is dismantled by war, many refugees are feeling welcomed here.

“We want to stop this situation in Ukraine and all people should be happy there and here and we would like to be happy for all of our people in Ukraine,” Tikhiy said. “We are praying for the peace and better life in our country.”

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The Ukrainian Relief Project says it wants Ukrainians to have the chance to be united, but in safety. On this day, they have a space to celebrate independence and hope for the future.

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