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Ukrainian community prays for peace

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Nataliya Pidchuk, originally from Ukraine, talks about the situation in Ukraine after service at Sts. Vladimir & Olga Cathedral (Ukrainian Catholic Church) on McGregor Street Sunday morning.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Nataliya Pidchuk, originally from Ukraine, talks about the situation in Ukraine after service at Sts. Vladimir & Olga Cathedral (Ukrainian Catholic Church) on McGregor Street Sunday morning. Photo Store

Winnipeg’s Ukrainans prayed today to avert war in Ukraine.

"I’m not political, but for me this is like a second Afghanistan," said Nataliya Pidchuk, her son and nephew at her side as she left church services at one of Winnipeg’s major Ukrainian Catholic cathedrals Sunday.

Parishioners, such as Pidchuk, at Sts. Vladimir Olga on McGregor Street have spent a fitful weekend eyeing ominous developments in Ukraine, which awakened apprehensions of Russian aggression like the kind that precipitated the Soviet invasion of Hungary in the 1950s, only this time the comparison isn’t to Soviet dictators, it’s to Russia’s autocratic President Vladimir Putin.

Hundreds gathered Saturday night to offer prayers for the dead at the Ukrainian Prosvita Institute a few blocks north of the Cathedral on Arlington and to hear the latest via Skype messages in live feeds from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

By Sunday, the leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church had sent messages to every priest in the world to ask for parishes to pray for Ukraine.

"The message from the patriarch is to ask for prayers, for God’s intercession," said Terry Babick. "Everybody is worried. The world is worried," he said.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s new prime minister urged Putin to pull back his military in the conflict between the two countries, warning "we are on the brink of disaster," news services including AP reported. The comment from Arseniy Yatsenyuk came as Russian troops rolled toward Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region, a day after Russian forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a single shot, the Associated Press reported.

Canada is home to the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population after Ukraine and Russia.

IN Canada, Winnipeg has the third-largest Ukrainian population after Edmonton and Toronto.

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