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Local church celebrates Ukrainian Independence Day

WATERVLIET -- Sunday marks the Ukraine's 23rd Anniversary of their renewed independence, but this year local Ukrainian groups say it's bitter sweet and they're praying for peace.

"The Ukraine is in the midst of an invasion we're fighting for our independence as we speak. So we gathered here today not only to commemorate our 23rd birthday so to speak but also to pray for all those people who have been killed including the flight M 17," says Dr. Andrij Baran, president of the Ukraine Congress Committee of the Capital District. 

"This time we celebrate with a little sadness and fear and hope but it is still a celebration and it means a lot to us," adds Father Mikhail Myshchuk, Priest of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. 

The St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Watervliet used the day to raise awareness. But, or Father Myschuk it was personal. He tells us his brothers and sisters live in the Ukraine and he just learned his brother will be drafted this week.

"The moment you read the news and you start to interpret this in your head, it's not easy lets put it that way," he says. 

"2,000 Ukrainians have died since hostilities have began, there have been over 10,000 wounded, and hundreds of thousands are homeless. It doesn't suit anyone to continue with war. War is evil on all sides, so we're going to be praying because that's our best weapon," adds Dr. Baran.

So the Ukraine Congress Committee of the Capital District is raising money to buy first aid kits to send to soldiers. They say they can purchase one of them for $100. Lt. Colonel Ihor Dzera was an honorary guest. He couldn't directly speak with the media, but he did talk about the importance of the first aid kits for troops in battle. 

"If we purchase a kit here it will be in the battle field in four days," says Dr. Baran.

Already, they have raised over $3,000 locally. They hope to raise even more. If you would like to donate e-mail Dr. Baran at

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