Ukrainians in Austin hold vigil for overseas friends, family

AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — While the turmoil in Kiev, Ukraine continues, Austin’s Ukrainian community came together on Friday night to hold a candlelight vigil for the friends they’ve lost over the past few days.

Nearly two dozen people showed up at the Capitol to talk about ‘Bloody Thursday.’

One of the attendees said her friend died during yesterday’s shootings.

Andrew Zwarun’s family fled Ukraine in 1944 and while he’s not there now he understands what family and friends in Ukraine are going through.

“We are Ukranians, we are not Russians. Don’t tell us that we have the same culture, same language, same traditions,” sai

The standoff between the government and protesters escalated this week, as demonstrators clashed with police and snipers opened fire in the worst violence the country has seen since the breakup of the Soviet Union a quarter-century ago. The Health Ministry puts the death toll at 77 and some opposition figures said it’s even higher.

On Friday, President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders struck a deal aimed at bringing Ukraine’s three-month political crisis to an end. But radical protesters and some pro-Russian factions rejected it, leaving lingering doubts over whether peace could be restored.

One radical speaker at the camp threatened to go on the offensive with weapons if the opposition doesn’t demand that President Viktor Yanukovych resign by Saturday morning. Others started chanting “Death to the criminal!” referring to Yanukovych.

Associated Press writers Maria Danilova, Yuras Karmanau, Efrem Lukatsky and Yuri Uvarov in Kiev; Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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