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


Despite pushback, the organizers of Cullman’s first PRIDE event are pushing forward

The announcement of Saturday’s event drew threats and calls for counter-protests. In response, LGBTQ+ communities across the state have offered their support.

6 ways the conversation around a guaranteed income in the US has changed

A guaranteed income conference held in Atlanta shows how the movement has progressed since 2017, with more than 50 pilots currently handing out cash.

New mental health crisis center aims to interrupt revolving door of jail and ER visits

The new clinic in Jefferson County will offer short-term crisis care to people who might otherwise wait hours at a hospital or wind up in jail.

Mississippi’s latest move in its anti-abortion agenda? A tax break for corporate donations

Tax documents show energy company foundations financed the anti-abortion movement in the Gulf South for years. Now, they could get a tax break for that support.

Commission rejects opening courthouse for Saturday absentee voting

Commissioner Sheila Tyson presented the resolution to open the Jefferson County Courthouse for Saturday absentee voting. Others felt the special circumstances of the pandemic had passed.

Birmingham City Council moves toward approval of cannabis dispensaries

Birmingham has taken “the first step” on the road to legalizing medical marijuana. The City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries to operate within Birmingham city limits.

More Front Page Coverage