Corvallis citizens show support for Ukraine at Benton County Courthouse gathering

4-year-old Belle Baxley holds a homemade sign while protesting in support for the people of Ukraine at the Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis, Ore. on Feb. 26. This is Baxley’s first protest.

Zeva Rosenbaum, News Contributor

Corvallis, Ore. residents gathered outside the Benton County Courthouse in support of Ukraine on Feb. 26 at noon, holding signs aloft and calling for an end to the Russian invasion. 

Over 40 people showed up despite the rain, and drivers on the street honked their horns in solidarity as they passed by. Even children came out to show support, as two little girls stood on the curb waving miniature “stand with Ukraine” signs. 

The gathering took place only a couple days after Russia launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine on Feb. 24, following eight years of political tension. 

The event was headed by husband and wife Misha Zyryanov and Hannah Bittner. Zyryanov is a Ukrainian American born and raised in Uzhhorod, Ukraine—which is one of Corvallis’ sister cities—before marrying Hannah Bittner, a Corvallis native, and moving to Corvallis. 

Hannah Bittner spoke to the crowd and said she was proud of Corvallis for coming together in such a way. Zyryanov gave a short speech at the gathering thanking Corvallis for their support.

Steve Bittner, father to Hannah Bittner, posted on the Corvallis People Facebook group prior to the event and wrote, “Misha’s brother-in-law is on the front lines of the war in Kyiv, and it is likely another family member will be going there to fight, too, as all males 18-60 years of age are being asked to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

Zyryanov said they’re all thankful for his brother-in-law, who is fighting in Uzhhorod Troop 128. 

Steve Bittner wrote that many have asked how they can help Ukraine—he pointed to giving money to the military and refugees, as well as keeping the issue in mind rather than moving on from it quickly. 

At the gathering, Zyryanov said people can help by sharing information, being aware of the situation and calling the situation what it is: a war, not a conflict. He said there are ways to help Ukraine by reaching out to government representatives, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in particular, to shut down the skies over Ukraine so Russia can no longer enact air strikes. 

Zyryanov said financial help is needed and appreciated and that the American dollar goes a long way in Ukraine—even $10 helps a lot, he said.  

Hannah Bittner said she is personally gathering money through her PayPal specifically for Uzhhorod Troop 128 which is currently working on the front lines in Ukraine. She also said Two Rivers Church in Gilbert, Arizona is offering support for refugees in Uzhhorod. Uzhhorod has become a place of relative safety thanks to their hospital and medical school. 

“This issue is very close to our hearts,” Hannah Bittner said. “We’re here to show our solidarity with Ukraine.”