Birmingham residents rally in support of Ukraine

A boy holding a sign that reads 'Putin! Hands off Ukraine' at the rally in Birmingham

Miranda Fulmore, WBHM

More than 50 people gathered Saturday afternoon at Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham to show support for Ukraine, which was invaded Thursday by Russia. The crowd was a mixture of Ukrainians, Russians, and others.

They asked for Russia to stop its invasion, and if that doesn’t happen, then support from other countries to assist Ukraine.

It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed throughout the U.S. and around the world.

“Sanctions are helpful. They’ll work, but they’re slow,” said Ian Cabacov. “We need immediate response from the United States, United Nations, European Union – all the countries that condemn war. [Ukraine] needs ammunition, weapons … we need blockade of Russia.”

Cabacov, a Ukrainian native, attended the rally with his wife and daughter. He said his cousin still lives there and she’s safe, for now.

Photo of Ian Cabacov and his daughter.
Ian Cabacov and his daughter.

The rally’s organizer, Ilya Blokh, said he wanted to show the Ukrainian people that Birmingham stands with them. Blokh moved from Russia to Birmingham in 1991 around the same time the USSR dissolved. His mom is Russian and his dad is Ukrainian.

“It feels shameful and scary,” said Blokh. “I want to be really clear that a lot of Russian people do not support this. This is not done by our people. This is done by the piece of shit president … prime minister.”

Like Blokh, many of the people at the rally still have friends and family in Ukraine. Nataliya Russo said her family had to evacuate from their home and her niece’s apartment building in Kyiv was bombed.

“I called my friends, they’re in the basement,” Russo said. “Now it’s [been] three days, and they can’t get out. They’re really scared. They’re crying. I said ‘how bad it is?’ They said ‘it’s really bad. It’s bombing so close. It’s really, really bad.'”

Photo of Nataliya Russo holding a Ukrainian flag
Nataliya Russo

Meanwhile, some Ukrainians were able to escape including Viktoria Burttram’s sister, who is pregnant.

“[My family] lives 45 minutes from the border with Poland,” said Burttram. “Just because there were so many people, it took them 46 hours to get across the border.”

But she said a lot of her friends stayed to fight, as Ukrainians face a new reality of war.

Little girl holding a Ukrainian flag at the rally in Birmingham
A girl held a Ukrainian flag Saturday’s rally in Birmingham


Rickwood Field, a time capsule of opportunity and oppression, welcomes MLB for Negro Leagues tribute

Rickwood Field, the oldest professional ballpark in the U.S. and former home to baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays and the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues, will host an MLB game between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Alabama native Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid’ has died at 93

Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night he had died earlier in the afternoon in the Bay Area.

What does Juneteenth mean to you?

Wednesday is Juneteenth. a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. The date goes back to 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation.  During our recent News and Brews community pop-up at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, we asked people what Juneteenth means to them.

Hall of Famer Willie Mays will not be in attendance for Negro League tribute game at Rickwood Field

Mays, who began his career in Alabama with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and played for the Giants from 1951-72, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will enjoy the game at home.

As dollar stores continue rural expansion, a Louisiana parish found a new way to push back

Tangipahoa Parish blocked a new Dollar General from opening in a case that could set a precedent for other communities looking to keep discount retailers out.

A family’s search for their native and formerly enslaved heritage in South Alabama

The Tate Family has spent nearly two decades uncovering records that establish their ancestors' time in Alabama before its statehood.

More Front Page Coverage