Northeastern student plans peace march as Boston’s Ukrainians watch, pray and protest

“We're all victims here ... It's not fair on any of us and it shouldn't have happened to any of us.”

People rallied at the Massachusetts State House Feb. 24 in solidarity with Ukraine. David L Ryan/The Boston Globe

Though Ukraine is more than 4,500 miles away from Boston, the conflict there hits much closer to home for some Boston residents — including Diana Zlotnikova, a fourth-year student at Northeastern University who hails from the now war-torn nation. 

Zlotnikova is organizing a peace march for Ukraine for this Sunday and said she hopes it can alleviate some of the anxiety and loneliness people may feel in the face of conflict abroad. 

“I started reaching out to student communities at Northeastern and then MIT, Harvard, Boston College, BU, Tufts, all the major schools in Boston, and just seeing if people from these communities would be interested in getting together, marching together, supporting each other, to show support for all our families and friends who are still in Ukraine,” Zlotnikova said.


The peace march will take place at the Boston Public Garden 9/11 Memorial at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27. 

The gathering Zlotnikova is organizing is not the first Boston has seen this week. A prayer vigil was held Thursday night at Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jamaica Plain; and during the day, hundreds of protestors at the Massachusetts State House called for support for Ukraine while waving Ukraine’s flags and holding signs with slogans like “Stop Russian aggression” and “Stand with Ukraine,” reported GBH.

One protester, Iryna Piotrowska, told GBH that she tried to convince her family to leave Ukraine earlier but they said no. Now, her father has been asked to join the army.

Invasion of Ukraine:

“I hope that other countries will come together and support Ukraine in this, you know, in this historic moment, because it’s just so unjust,” Piotrowska said. 

Zlotnikova is also far from the only student tuned into happenings abroad. Boston 25 News spoke with several Ukrainian college students in Boston, all of whom agreed stricter sanctions are a necessary response to Russia’s attacks. 

“It is very difficult, and sometimes I do feel hopeless,” Harvard sophomore Nika Rudenko told Boston 25 News. “It is indeed happening only in our territories, but it can spread very rapidly and to the rest of the world.”


Zlotnikova said gatherings of support “became so much more important” once Russia officially attacked Ukraine.

“Everyone’s shown just incredible support,” Zlotnikova said. “People volunteered to bring things, draw posters, some have volunteered to be photographers, some have volunteered to make a video. It just got so much traction that I never expected to see … I was worried that we’re going to get not enough people and then it just blew up.”

Though the organization of this weekend’s march has not been centralized on one platform or in one group chat, Zlotnikova estimates that around 350 people have said they will come. 

“When I was talking to people, my peers, other Ukrainian students or even Russian students, there is a lot of feeling of guilt going around for you being here in Boston safe and sound while their families have to go through everything that they’ve been going through,” Zlotnikova said. “It’s actually very hard to concentrate on things and just do anything with our lives right now.”

Zlotnikova called the conflict in Ukraine a “shared tragedy” and said it will touch everyone around the world. 

There is not one centralized place to get more information about Sunday’s march, but Zlotnikova said there are some Facebook events that have been posted. The march also has an Instagram page.


“The march on Sunday is in no way going to be about politics or pointing fingers saying who’s right or who’s wrong,” Zlotnikova said. “We’re all victims here … It’s not fair on any of us and it shouldn’t have happened to any of us.”

We’d like to hear directly from Ukrainian Americans or Ukrainians living in New England. Tell us your story below or if you know of organizations to you’d recommend supporting, please share with us here.


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