What’s Going On In Chicago

That was the counter-protest I blogged about last week.

Unfortunately, this website is not showing in the EU, so I had to go to the VPN to see it. For those who are in the US, here is a link:


And copying the whole thing here so that my friends outside the US could see it as well.

Anti-war coalition rallies 20 years after Iraq invasion: ‘Fund the people’s needs, not the war machine’

ANSWER Coalition

An anti-war coalition rallies outside of the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago. The group said the United States should be trying to lead peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia — not sending military aid to Ukraine. Photo credit Brandon Ison

 By Brandon Ison

WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

2 hours ago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — With temperatures in the teens and an added chill from the breeze, dozens of people from several local anti-war groups gathered in front of the Wrigley Building Saturday.

“They say, ‘More war;’ we say, ‘No war,’” protesters chanted.

The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition was formed in the days after the 9/11 attacks and initiated an anti-war movement in the months leading up to March 18, 2003. Twenty years later, Emil Mitchell was among the speakers representing the ANSWER Coalition in Chicago.

“There’s a war machine out there, and we all know it’s funded with trillions of dollars, but here at the ANSWER Coalition, all of our groups, we are building a peace machine that will end war for good,” he said. “It will take all of us.”

The rally was one of several nationwide demonstrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War invasion.

Mitchell said the U.S. government claims there’s not enough money for schools, healthcare, housing, wages, or climate change.

Anti-war protesters

“They say, ‘More war;’ we say, ‘No war,’” protesters chanted outside of the Wrigley Building on Saturday. Photo credit Brandon Ison

“Yet they find almost $1 trillion for war every war,” he said. “That’s why we demand that they must fund the people’s needs — not the war machine.”

To Mitchell, and others at the anti-war demonstration, this would include a stop to military aid in Ukraine. A counterpoint on Saturday came from someone who may seem like an unlikely source: Anastasia Voronova, a Russian who came to the United States four years ago to study.

Voronova told WBBM that it’s not safe for her to return to Russia with her firm held belief in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty. She was part of a two-person counterprotest to the anti-war rally, Russian-born Igor Studenkov joining her. He said the situation in Ukraine would be much worse without global support.

Pro-Ukrainian protesters

Igor Studenkov (L) and Anastasia Voronova showed up to counterprotest Saturday’s anti-war rally. Studenkov said lasting peace in Ukraine will be impossible without Russian troops leaving the country, detained Ukrainians being freed and a trial for those accused of war crimes. Photo credit Brandon Ison

“Ukraine is being invaded, and it needs help,” he said. “The sooner they can get help, the sooner this war can be over, the sooner Ukrainian cities can stop being bombed, and the sooner — hopefully — that all the people who had to flee will be able to go home.”

Studenkov said Mitchell’s groups should direct their anger at Russian president Vladimir Putin, and he added that Ukraine should receive all the help it can get.

“We believe that any lasting peace in Ukraine is impossible without Russian troops getting out of Ukraine, without all of the detained Ukrainian civilians being freed, without all the people accused of war crimes being tried before an international tribunal,” Studenkov said.

And One More – Please Come Out Next Saturday!

Friends! Those who are in Chicago, please consider coming and supporting this counter-protest.

Igor says very well why you should counter-protest if you really want to support Ukraine!

On March 18, the group of left-wing activists from the organizations that make up the ANSWER Coalition will gather at Wrigley building in Chicago to demand “end the $100 Billion in arms shipments to Ukraine,” negotiations with Russia and “no war with China.” Nowhere is there a demand for the aggressor in the war – the Russian Federation – to withdraw the troops from Ukrainian soil. But then, these are the groups that insist that the 2013-2014 Maidan protests are neo-Nazi coup supported by the West and that Putin’s response was justified because… NATO expansion, and Nazis. So lots of Putin talking points over there.

More info on their respective here: https://www.codepink.org/piu20iraqchicago

Peace in Ukraine is a laudable goal, but there can’t be meaningful,, lasting peace until the Russian Federation withdraws its troops, until all imprisoned civilians are released and until those who committed war crimes on the Ukrainian soil face justice. If you believe that a display of Putin’s talking points shouldn’t go unchallenged, come out and protest, and spread the word about the *real* path to peace.

I will be out of town (and out of the country) and won’t be able to come. Please, come for me!

And One More

Even though I already wrote several blogs in relation to the one-year Russian invasion, there are still a couple of things I wanted to mention.

The first thing is about the dominating mood of the anti-war protests. A year ago, these protests had a distinct mood of endless grief. When I blogged about the rallies a year ago, I mentioned that it was the first time in my life that I participated in the rallies, and they were not energizing. Usually, when you protest, you feel empowered by the people who are protesting with you, and you feel like you make your voice heard. In the wake of the war, the mood was completely different: pain and sorrow dominated, and the sense of eternal loss was in the air.

It was different this year. The mood was: we know what to do, and we’ll raise our voices so that the people in charge will hear us. The was way more offense and way more energy. Which is good. Once again, I hope that we made at least some difference.

And the second thought I had was prompted by the Facebook post of my friend. On February 24, marking this grim anniversary, she blogged about “many things that didn’t happen” because the war started.

As for me, I feel differently. The start of the war was not a volcano eruption that took human lives suddenly and unexpectedly. Although the war, indeed, ended lots of innocent people’s lives, it was not a force of nature. It uncovered the confrontation between Russia and the rest of the world, which many people didn’t want to see. Many people, including myself and Boris, tried to support some positive things we could see here and there and refused to see the uncontrolled destructive power behind the facade. So I’d say – yes, there were many things that didn’t happen because the war started. But it’s in some sense good that they didn’t happen because all of the illusions are gone.

I felt something similar (although of a very different nature) about the pandemic. In some weird way, I didn’t want it not to happen. It ruined all my plans for 2020, but I learned so many things about people, their relationships, about what is important and what is not that I would not ever trade this experience for blissful ignorance.

When the war started, it became impossible to pretend that “things are not that bad.”

Weekend Protests Follow-up

I had so many work-related and conference-related things going on that I didn’t even finish posting about the weekend events. There were reporters out there,m both Friday and Saturday, and they took better pictures than us. All the pictures below are copied from the Chicago Tribune gallery. There is Annam and a part of me :).

I still feel dissatisfied, and I regret that I didn’t do more. The most important message we had to send was a message to our legislators to continue supporting the Ukraine war effort and to make it clear that it is not a general humanitarian thing,” but keeping the rest of the world safe. Looking and the news coverage, I feel that this mission was not achieved.

I also blame myself that I didn’t speak at the end of the meeting when the floor was available. It was already too cold, and everybody started to feel it (though nobody had left). Yes, I was unprepared, and it was cold, and I thought that Nadia and Kira could get completely frozen at any moment. That’s all true, but I still could.

Continue reading “Weekend Protests Follow-up”

All About Yesterday

There were a lot of different events happening in Chicago on Friday and Saturday, marking a year of the Russian war against Ukraine. I have an acute feeling that I haven’t done enough, haven’t said enough, and that people, in general, are more indifferent than they should be.

Still, I want to report some positive news.

The Ukrainian rally on Friday was massive, with lots of city and county officials in attendance. I was hoping to be there at least for a part of it, but I had an unreconcilable conflict with the girls arriving at the same time. Igor was there and took a lot of pictures.

Continue reading “All About Yesterday”

I Hope People Will Come!

Last Saturday, I distributed some flyers about tomorrow’s rally to the protesters by the Lyric Opera Building. It turned out that Chicago Tribune did an interview with one of the Ukrainian refugees who were there, and … they mentioned the rally in the article!

Also, Igor and one other rally organizer were interviewed by NBC today, so there will be even more visibility.

I hope that people will come!

Today at Jewel Osco. I imagine some people might think it’s bad taste, but I felt it like a touching gesture.

Silence Is Complicity!

A rare occasion that my first look at BBC alerts in the morning made me smile – I saw the news about Biden’s surprise visit to Kyev. Actually, I instantly felt completely awake! It was quite awesome and unexpected.

But even though several of my friends messaged me excitedly, I told all of them that Biden does not decide the aid to Ukraine solely. We still need to make sure that the US Congress will continue to support financial and military aid for Ukraine.

That brings me right to the main topic of this week. I was trying to find any rally supporting Ukraine, and the only one announced was the one on February 24 by Saints Volodimir and Olha Cathedral.

Why is it not enough? First, this rally will be mostly Ukrainian; there will probably be some representatives of Polish, Lithuanian, and maybe Georgian communities. And it will be far from the Loop. And the important thing now is not only to condemn the war and war criminals but also to send a clear message to our legislators.

Here is what struck me. I didn’t build a political activists network in Rogers Park yet. I emailed a few people from NWSOFA with whom I canvassed and rallied in the suburbs before I moved, and there was zero enthusiasm about rallying for Ukraine. One of them suggested contacting Jan Schakowsky’s office. I went to her website, and to my dismay, I saw zero about Ukraine. Zero. Nothing in her list of issues or in her foreign policy stands. I could not believe my eyes. 

My concern is that now that we have a Republican majority in Congress and the conversation about “how long we are going to send money to Ukraine” has resumed, the message from the constituents should be unambiguous. We should support Ukrainians in their fight because they defend the world. It’s not a charity, and it’s not an investment. It is the fight for all of us. Without help from the rest of the world, Ukraine won’t win. And if Ukraine doesn’t win, Putin won’t stop. 

Igor joined the efforts of the organizers of Saturday’s rally on Daley plaza, and I am trying to do my small part by promoting this event. I don’t know how many people will come, but we have five more days, so I hope to spread the word. 

If you are in Chicago, you might have seen these flyers. Please come and join us on Saturday at Daley Plaza. 

Finally, The Christmas Season Is Complete!

The last of my Christmas parcels was delivered to Mykolaiv this week. Two weeks ago, the parcel sent to Kyiv was delivered. That was a joy; however, I understand the difference between delivering to Kyiv and Mykolaiv. I sent both parcels in defiance of the cruelties of war, hoping they would make it in against all odds. It was a completely childish idea, like, “I can’t stop the war, but it’s still in my power to do something good, and nobody can stop me.”

My dear S., as you know, I am keeping close to my heart your words – “it will happen, just not as soon as both you and me would want it to happen.”

… I hope it will!