Basketball player

Ukrainian Basketball Player, Family – Can’t Go Home – Join Rallies Against Invasion in South Florida – NBC 6 South Florida

A Ukrainian basketball player and his wife, an artist, came to visit South Florida. Now the couple and their children cannot return home due to the Russian invasion.

“We came to visit, we thought we were going to come here for months,” said former NBA G-League player Maksym Pustozvonov, who now plays for the Ukraine national basketball team. “…I’m on the phone with everyone all the time but it’s hard to say anything, what can I say from here?”

Pustozvonov, artist Lana Kaufman and their children joined hundreds Friday night at Sunny Isles Beach to protest the Russian occupation of Ukraine.

“Once we found out that Russian troops had occupied the border, we had to stay and wait,” Kaufman said. “…There are so many bombs, it’s like everywhere, on houses, on people.”

The couple’s young children, Sophia and Michael Kaufman, rallied alongside their parents.

“It’s crazy, I don’t understand how this is happening,” Sophia said.

“They shoot at civilians in the streets. I don’t think that’s fair,” Michael said.

Protesters brought flags, held up signs and chanted.

“All my friends who are in Kyiv are currently in bomb shelters,” said participant Eugene Dmytriienko.

Protests denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue in South Florida, this time in Sunny Isles Beach, home to a large population of Ukrainians and Russians. Reporting by Ryan Nelson of NBC 6

“We are here all united, having a very clear message to Putin, to leave! It’s time for him to go! said participant Natalia Chernysh.

Amid the chaos, the Ukrainian community is praying for a peaceful end.

“I have a strong hunch and a feeling that this will end peacefully,” Chernysh said. “And peace will only happen when we come to the conclusion that war is not going to help.”

Many of those protesting also called for tougher sanctions against Russia, including the country’s withdrawal from the global banking communication system, SWIFT.