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Utah Ukrainians hope new documentary brings awareness to crisis



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SALT LAKE CITY — A group of independent filmmakers, who call themselves Babylon ’13, created a new documentary, “Stronger than Arms.” The film depicts the political turmoil in Ukraine that began in November 2013.

The filmmakers placed themselves in the middle of the action, wearing protective gear such as helmets and bullet proof vests, according to Nova Ukraine.

The website states, “This film takes its audience right in the middle of the Maidan Revolution, into the smoke of the burning barricades, the deserted childhood home of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and the battle for Donetsk airport.”

Some members of Utah’s Ukrainian community hope the documentary will help Utahns understand what’s at stake in Ukraine, and will help them in their efforts to persuade U.S. political leaders to take action in Ukraine.

“The film was actually pretty honest,” said Dmitry Kolodyazhny. “Meaning that it wasn’t trying to portray just one opinion.”

Kolodyazhny’s family lives in Kiev. He’s concerned about his family’s safety and hopes for peace.

“Where is the Russian side going to stop?” he asked. “Are they going to stop where they are now in the eastern part? Or are they going to keep moving forward because they have the third largest army in the world?”


I hope in America, people will realize that Ukrainians are fighting for their independence, for their freedom, just like America fought for their freedom.

–Dmitry Kolodyazhny


Kolodyazhny hopes Utahns can relate to the struggle in Ukraine.

“I hope in America, people will realize that Ukrainians are fighting for their independence - for their freedom,” he said. “Just like America fought for their freedom.”

Liliya Velbovets connects regularly with her family, who also lives in Kiev.

“We talk to our parents on Skype and we see a TV on in the background,” she explained. “It shows explosions and they get daily updates of the number of soldiers that died.”

Velbovets and Kolodyazhny are part of a dedicated non-profit group, Nova Ukraine, working to raise awareness of the turmoil in their homeland, host events to educate the public about the crisis in Ukraine, and encourage people to take action to help.

“They really stood up for their rights and risked a lot of things to make change for the better,” said Velbovets.

For Kolodyazhny, taking action means help.

“Humanitarian help. Help in reforms. Help with protective weapons for Ukrainians to protect themselves,” he said.

“Stronger than Arms” is the story of the birth of a new Ukraine, according to Nova Ukraine members. Viewers can see a series of riots occurring on December 1st, 2013, which were in response to a police crackdown on protesters and journalists.

“We really hope that this situation will come to an end as soon as possible,” said Velbovets. “The best thing that can happen to Ukraine is keeping that mentality of change, so they can continue fighting corruption, and improve lives of Ukrainians there.”

Velbovets said not all Ukrainians living in Utah agree with the protestors on Maidan and she said the documentary presents that viewpoint. Therefore, she is inviting anyone from the Russian community, who may not agree with the protestors as well as Ukrainians who support Russia’s involvement in the land to view the documentary. Velbovets said all are welcome to the free event.

“We don’t have to agree but we can at least discuss what’s going on,” she said.

The documentary “Stronger than Arms” screens Saturday, March 21 at 3 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Public Library.

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