'Glory to the heroes!': Ukrainian Americans show their patriotism at Detroit rally

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

As Russia continued its bloody assault on Ukraine on Sunday, local Ukrainians and Ukraine supporters flooded Detroit's Hart Plaza and surrounding streets to condemn the aggression.

The densely packed crowd at the Stand With Ukraine rally overflowed the plaza, moving from Woodward Avenue to Campus Martius park.

Protesters waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags, and carried banners and protest signs. "Ukraine is not yet lost," the national anthem of Ukraine, blasted from cars and boomboxes. 

Helen Kosinska of Sterling Heights and her daughter, Victoria Kosinska, 13, heard someone call "Slava Ukrajini!" and responded "Herojam Slava!"

"That means 'Glory to Ukraine,' and we are answering 'Glory to the heroes! '" said the mother, who said Victoria was a year-and-a-half old when the family immigrated to the U.S. for jobs.

Sergiy Kuzenkov, 23, holds a “We Stand with Ukraine” sign as he and others march in the Stand With Ukraine rally in downtown Detroit. Kuzenkov was born in the Crimea region of Ukraine, but has lived in the U.S. since he was 6 years old. He now lives in Warren.

Kosinska said friends who live in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv have been phoning her daily about that city's bombardment. 

"The children are dying," Kosinska said. "We are asking for global governments to stand with us."

A police officer, speaking just before 3 p.m, said it appeared there were more than a thousand protesters and the crowd was still growing. An official estimate of the crowd size was not yet available. 

Hanna Kravets, 57, went to the rally with her friend Galina Tymchyshyn, 38. The Ukrainian Americans, who live in Warren, held a poster asking Ukraine allies to close the skies to Russian aircraft, send NATO forces into Ukraine and ban Russia from SWIFT, international financial messaging system.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday said Japan was joining the United States and European nations in cutting off key Russian banks from SWIFT to step up sanctions against Russia for its invasion.

Also on Sunday, Europe and Canada said they would close their airspace to Russian airlines, raising the pressure on the United States to do the same. The European Union action came after many of its member countries had said they were barring Russian planes or planned to do so by Sunday night.

Nick Deychakiwsky of Brighton holds an anti-Putin sign made by Oksana Pronych, left, also of Brighton, during a Stand With Ukraine flashmob and rally in Detroit on Sunday, February 27, 2022.

Kravets' brother and his family, and Tymchyshyn's parents, all live in Western Ukraine near the border with Poland. Their relatives are safe for now, but the situation is tenuous, the friends said.  

"They bombed the airport about 10 kilometers from where my parents live," Tymchyshyn added. 

Ukraine supporters carry flags and signs as they march past the Spirit of Detroit statue in front the Coleman Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit on Sunday, February 27, 2022.

Helena Sokolovska, 27, held her 8-month-old son, Daniel. She said she's been in the country for about four years. She attended the protest with her husband, brother, nephew, uncle and a number of friends.

"My friends are calling me (from Kyiv)," Sokolovska said. "(The Russians) are hitting civilian targets. People are dying.

"This crime must be punished," she said. "We are standing between the East and the West, and this Putin — now he's talking about the nuclear (weapons.)

"It should not be like this in our world." 


Twitter: @kbouffardDN

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tania Smyk, 21, of Detroit directs Ukraine rally marchers on Woodward Avenue using a bullhorn. She was one of the organizers of the ‘Stand With Ukraine’ flashmob and rally in downtown Detroit on Sunday, February 27, 2022.