Tears, disbelief, and solidarity as Taiwan’s Ukrainians speak out

The following article appeared in today’s Taipei Times

Natasha Bessovova writes a slogan on a placard at a demonstration outside the building that houses the Representative Office in Taipei for the Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation, Russia’s de facto embassy in Taiwan. Bessovova and other Ukrainian residents of Taiwan were there on Friday February 25 to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She is flanked by her boyfriend Peter Teng, left, and compatriot Tanya Polyak. The completed slogan on the sign translates as “Glory Ukraine.”

Solidarity and steadfastness. These qualities were evident among Ukrainians long before missiles began pulverizing their cities early Thursday morning. They were on display again on Friday and Saturday in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義), where hundreds of people gathered outside the building housing the Russian representative office.

Ukrainians were prominent among them. Some arrived in tears — on Friday, one young woman shook convulsively throughout, her bloodshot eyes betraying fatigue and distress. Many of those present had been up all night talking to friends and family. With each new arrival, there were hugs and timid smiles, yet the trepidation hung thick.

“My family are fine right now,” says Tanya Polyak, who like several of the young Ukrainian women present, works as a model. “Just a few hours ago they heard a loud explosion, but they didn’t feel anything.”

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