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Terps Gather to Call for Peace in Ukraine

With Tears, Hugs and Anger, International Crowd Condemns Invasion

By Chris Carroll

Students gather at Ukraine peace rally

UMD doctoral student Viktoriia Savchuk, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag, speaks against against Russia's invasion of her country Thursday on the steps of McKeldin Library. President Darryll J. Pines, below left, joined the 100-plus Terps at the peace rally.

Photos by John T. Consoli

In quiet, anguished voices, some of the 100-plus Terps who gathered this afternoon on the McKeldin Library steps to decry the Russian invasion of Ukraine described what their loved ones are enduring. They’ve fled from their homes, they huddle in bomb shelters, and they fear for their lives as the assault launched by President Vladimir Putin enters its second week.

“It’s night as we speak (in Ukraine), and night is the most horrible,” said doctoral student Viktoriia Savchuk, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag and holding a “Stop Putin” sign. “It’s impossible to sleep in Ukraine.”

Savchuk spoke of the fear her grandmother, who had survived World War II and now is in her 80s, is feeling as another war sweeps through the country. But the next speaker, doctoral student Yana Chapailo, admitted, “I’m saying something horrible here, but I’m glad my grandparents are not alive” to face the same peril as the rest of her family and friends, including a neonatal specialist struggling to care for preemies in a hospital basement.

Chapailo called for a global response to hold Russia accountable and support Ukrainian refugees, fighters and aid organizations, for which student organizers collected donations: “What we can do together is not be silent.”

Many of those present were not Ukrainian, hailing from the United States or around the world. A Russian student fought back tears as she described struggling to explain the reality of the conflict to her relatives overseas who are being force-fed Putin’s propaganda.

Darryll Pines attends peace rally

A student from Kosovo born during its war for independence said the world should be proud of Ukraine’s resistance, and more wary of leaders who assert the need to invade. Several Terps from around the former Soviet Union voiced their support for Ukraine in its struggle as well.

University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines listened to the accounts and voiced UMD’s condemnation of the invasion and support for the sovereignty of Ukraine, while acknowledging the anxiety that Russian Terps feel as well.

“The University of Maryland is here to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and with the community here in College Park,” he said. “We will do our best to help all those in need, those who are here and those who are abroad.”

Pines added that UMD is actively working with the American Association of Universities and with Maryland’s congressional delegation, including U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ’63, to support diplomatic measures to swiftly end the conflict.

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