Northern Michigan Couple Shares Their First Hand Account of Prot - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Northern Michigan Couple Shares Their First Hand Account of Protests in Ukraine

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A northern Michigan couple experienced the unrest in Ukraine first hand.  They watched the protests from their hotel balcony.

Randy Hale traveled to Kiev, Ukraine to help his fiancée and her daughter complete the Visa process and move to the United States.  

At the same time, violent protests broke out, right outside the hotel they were staying in.

The three are now out of Ukraine and safe at home in Clare.

In the past few weeks, thousands protested in Kiev after the Ukrainian President backed out of a trade deal with the European Union. Many protesters felt this was a decision about whether Ukraine would be an ally with Europe or Russia. The protests resulted in 26 deaths.

Randy and his fiancée, a Ukrainian native, say earlier protests were peaceful.
Unfortunately the protests they witnessed this time, were violent, and right outside their hotel.

"They were carrying rebar, and baseball bats, and ice axes, and knives and everything they were just armed to the teeth. It was really kind of intimidating."

Randy Hale took video from the balcony of his hotel. He said as time went on, things became increasingly violent between protestors and police.

"When people started throwing Molotov cocktails in the crowds and from the crowds, then it really kind of hit me how serious it was."

His fiancée, Sofiya Dombrovskaya, and her daughter say it was upsetting to watch their country being virtually destroyed.

"We were really angry about these people. We didn't like what they do. It's horrible since they try to spoil everything, everywhere, these beautiful buildings and the square."

An even scarier moment was caught on camera as they tried to leave Kiev, unsure of what they may face on these empty streets.

"They had sandbagged all the streets and openings," Randy explained,"I didn't speak the language, I didn't know the city and I just didn't have a way of defending myself."  

As for an end to the violence in Ukraine? Sofiya says it's not likely anytime soon.

"I don't like this situation I think before it was order in Ukraine, and now it looks like chaos. People don't know what they want. I think it can take maybe 3 or 4 months, and they're finished. But it's Ukraine, I think in maybe 5 or 6 years it can happen again."

The couple says it was an extremely emotional moment for them when they finally arrived in the states, knowing that they were all finally safe.