A Ukrainian refugee in North Bay says the invasion of his homeland is a tragedy for all free people.
That’s why Andrii Bieliaiev is looking to area businesses, public buildings, schools and others to hold a minute of silence on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“It’s not really Russians against Ukraine, it’s tyranny against democracy,” he says. “That’s why so many states are helping Ukraine because they understand that if Ukraine loses then all democracy will lose.”
He’s proposing a minute of silence be held at 11 am on Feb. 24, followed by the Ukrainian national anthem being played over loudspeakers then speaking the phrase “Be brave like Ukraine.”
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the deaths of nearly 7,200 civilians have been verified while more than 11,000 have been injured.
While the agency says the real numbers could be higher, Bieliaiev says there is no question they are.
“It’s ridiculously little”, he says pointing out that the population of Mariupol alone was nearly half a million people.
“They damaged more than 99 percent of the buildings,” Bieliaiev says. “Imagine, how can they kill all these people? Maybe it’s lucky they only killed 100,000.”
He says his niece was one of the people killed in Mariupol.
Millions of people have also been displaced, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Bieliaiev says he and his family arrived in North Bay last August and still have family in Ukraine.