Slava Ukrani: Locals condemn Russian attack against Ukraine

Christine Charest stands in front of the Rhode Island State House, lit up in support of Ukraine.

NORTH SMITHFIELD/BURRILLVILLE – Locals – both with and without ties to the eastern European country – are condemning the Russian attack against Ukraine, speaking out against the unprovoked violence.

Among them is Burrillville Town Council President Donald Fox, who majored in Soviet & East European Area Studies and spent time at Leningrad State University, now known as St. Petersburg. Fox has published statements both personally and through his town-based business, Alashan Cashmere.

“I have traveled extensively through and done business in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine,
western and southwestern Russia – throughout the Donbas Region – Georgia, Armenia and Turkmenistan,” Fox told NRI NOW.  “I was in Riga, Latvia on the day they declared independence in 1990.  I watched and participated in massive protests in Tbilisi, Georgia in the same year.  Some of the
photos that I took of those events still give me goosebumps.”

Fox said he will not do business any further with Russia until Putin is gone from power and a new government is in place.

“During these turbulent times, it is hard to focus on work, but that is why we are here in NY today,” noted his business on social media. “Alashan is proud to support the heroic efforts ongoing in Ukraine and supports the Ukrainian struggle against Russian aggression.”

Fox noted that he traveled across both Russia and Ukraine many times in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Heart breaking to watch Russian troops invade as fascists did 81 years ago in Operation Barbarossa. There has never been a love loss between Ukrainians and Russians and I experienced it speaking Russian on Ukrainian soil in the past. But Ukraine does not deserve this by the hand of the Madman of Moscow,” Fox wrote. “Putin is a cowardly crazed lunatic. We must all be vigilant against his moves, as well as those from China, Iran and North Korea.”

“I love my experiences in Russia, but it is time for the free world to stand strong against tyrants, wherever they are found,” Fox added. “Does that mean another Cold War? So be it. Freedom begets more freedom.”

Fox has organized a fundraiser to support the country to be held at Bravo Brewing Company in Pascoag from 6 to 9 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17. Funds will go toward the International Rescue Committee’s efforts to provide food and medicine to the Ukrainian population as they are under assault by Russian aggression.

He notes that locals can visit to view more options to help by making a small donation to support the Ukrainian people.

The General Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday, March 1 condemning the attack, with Sen. Melissa Murray, who represents District 24 in North Smithfield and Woonsocket, also speaking out.

“This is a global crisis and we condemn this aggression in the strongest terms possible. The courage of the Ukrainian people has inspired our nation and the entire world. We stand with you and hope for peace. Slava Ukrani,” said Murray, who noted that as a child, she lived in the one house that stands between the two Ukrainian churches in Woonsocket, and now represents the neighborhood.

“Slava Ukrani” is a Ukrainian national salute that means “glory to Ukraine.”

Former Slatersville Post Master Christine Charest is an active member of one of those city-based Ukrainian churches, St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and has family that still lives in the country. Charest has taught classes on the ancient Ukrainian tradition of decorating eggs, known as Pysanka, and is now raffling a painted goose eggs to raise funds for humanitarian aid.

Christine Charest is selling raffle tickets to raise money for humanitarian aid to Ukraine with the chance to win this or another egg.

“It is decorated with a Ukrainian rushnik, an embroidered cloth/towel that is used in many Ukrainian customs,” Charest noted of the first egg put up for raffle.

Charest has been selling 100 tickets at $10 each and will be sending all proceeds to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. In 18 hours, she raised $2,500 and decided to create and raffle two more eggs.

Those who would like a ticket are asked to message Charest via social media.

“While I feel so helpless, I feel that this small gesture can help in many ways,” she noted, adding that she will ship the prizes if the winners are not local.

Those who would like to help can also make donations directly to humanitarian aid for the country via Facebook here.

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