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SAN DIEGO — Many Russian Americans are joining their Ukrainian neighbors to demand peace as Putin and Russian troops continue to wreak havoc. 

Community members marched around the County Administration Building Saturday afternoon to denounce the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Olga Bekker, 26, walked in a crowd of hundreds, holding a sign that read “I’m against Putin and war, I’m Russian.”

“I was a little scared at first to write that I am Russian honestly, but I understood that it is very important for people to understand that we are with them,” said Bekker, a Russian American who marched with Ukrainian Americans. “This is the only thing we can do, just share with the world that we are against and we stand for Ukrainian and Ukrainian people who are innocent, who are dying and Russian people are dying right now, too. We need to be against war and support peace and love.”

Russian Americans who call San Diego home are speaking out, saying what friends and family back home cannot.

“I want you to understand that not everyone in Russia is with Putin. There is a large opposition that he suppresses. People are afraid to go out and speak up,” said Dmitri Orlov, a Russian American who supports Ukrainians. “We are a lot more free here. We can go out into the streets, we can protest with our Ukrainian friends, unlike my friends in Russia who will be jailed for just walking out into the street with just an anti-war message.”

Many are feeling the weight of war and struggle to understand what is going on. While fighting back tears, Russian native Irina Feshchen expressed her sorrow for the impact the violence is having across the world.

“Stay strong Ukraine, you are not alone. A lot of Russians support you,” said Irina Feshchenko, a Russian American in support of Ukraine.

The San Diego County Administration building was lit up in yellow and blue — colors of the Ukrainian flag Saturday night in support of Ukraine and its people.