A UKRAINIAN woman from Andover who is ‘heartbroken’ as she watches her home city being attacked has organised a peaceful demonstration to bring together supporters across the area.

Olga Kott, who lives in Appleshaw, near Andover, has set up a Stand With Ukraine event outside Salisbury Cathedral at 1pm on Sunday, February 27.

The 38-year-old, who is originally from the city of Zaporizhzhya in south-east Ukraine, said she felt like she needed to bring people together in solidarity at a difficult time.

Speaking to the Advertiser, she said: “I am emotional, sad. Our parents, sisters, brothers, friends are in the real danger area. There are bombs, troops. There were explosions at night when people didn’t expect it. There are continuous attacks, they can hear sirens, people are hiding underground.

“It’s breaking our hearts.”

Earlier this week, Russian troops launched an unprovoked attack on neighbouring Ukraine. They are now just outside of Kyiv.

Olga continued: “First of all I felt scared. I couldn’t believe it. It was shocking. But now, actually, we feel more powerful. Ukraine is much smaller than Russia, but we have had incredible support from everyone. We do not have a big, strong professional army but it’s common people and incredible volunteers that mean we still believe in our country.”

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Olga, her husband Taras and their children Katerina, 10, and Leo, 5, are grateful that so far they have been able to keep in touch with friends and family in Ukraine.

Olga said: “We call every day. My young goddaughter cries and asks ‘take me out of here’, but I can’t. There is no way to even leave the city far less the country.

“There is always a question mark, will we have connection tomorrow? At least for now we know what is happening.”

She continued: “Our children ask questions, we decided not to hide the truth from them. My boy will say ‘I do not want my grandparents to die’ and it just breaks my heart. Going to bed, we worry and think, please let them wake up safe.”

Knowing that she was not alone in worrying, Olga decided to reach out to others and has now taken it a step further, setting up the event this weekend to show support.

People will wear traditional clothes, hold banners and blue and yellow ribbons, and talk about what financial help might be needed in the future, when the situation is clearer, Olga said.

A spokesperson for Salisbury Cathedral added that there will be a a moment of prayer led by one of the Cathedral clergy, after which candles will be lit. People are asked to gather at the traffic hut by 1.10pm and then they will walk down to the Cathedral to say prayers. 

“Instead of watching, sat in front of the TV and crying, we decided to do something to help,” said Olga.

“There are so many people who can’t get to London, and here people can bring children along as well. We just hope people will pay attention. It is not against Russia, our direction is to be peaceful, peace for Ukraine.

“When I told my parents, they cried because it means a lot to them. They have been to the cathedral and it means a lot that it’s actions and not just words, people saying how sorry they are.”

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Olga, who runs a soft furnishings business, has lived in the UK for 15 years and added: “I feel so grateful to everyone who has offered their help. We do not feel foreign anymore, but we do still feel Ukrainian.

“We just want all Ukrainian people to know that we care about them and I want the people who are here, who are terrified about our families, to know that they are not alone and we will help them with anything that they might need.”

For more information about the event, visit: https://fb.me/e/4ARATRVSa

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