Vancouver Ukrainians demand Russia withdraw its troops

03/02/2014 09:14 EST | Updated 05/02/2014 05:59 EDT
Members of Vancouver's Ukrainian community rallied in downtown Vancouver Sunday, and gathered in churches and in homes with family and friends to discuss  the presence of Russian troops in their homeland. 

International student Galyna Bondar's family is in the Crimea, where Russian troops are now stationed.  She talked to her parents by Skype, Saturday.

"The whole situation is getting worse every single day. I have a sister and she has a small baby and she can't walk in the park anymore.  There are Russian soldiers carrying guns.

Bondar says Ukrainians cherish their independence and if pushed, will fight.

Vitaliy Kuabatskyy attended a rally on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery with a sign showing Russian president Vladimir Putin as Adolph Hitler. 

"I want to show people in Canada that history in the Ukraine is repeating itself with actions similar to 1939," he said. "Putin is doing what Adolph Hitler did a half century ago.

At St Mary's Ukrainian Church the congregation was also discussing the recent turn of events. Parish chair Michael Myckatyn says people are upset.

"The reaction is one of general horror," he said, "particularly among people who have a close connection with the Ukraine."

"The ethnic conflicts between Ukraine and Russia have been going on for hundreds of years. I was there a few years ago and if you walk down the street and you speak Russian, people turn around. They get annoyed."

Myckatyn says Ukrainians and Russians have learned to co-exist over the years, but it's always been an uneasy peace.