President of Ukrainian community in Kraków on support for Ukraine

April 18,2024 206
President of Ukrainian community in Kraków on support for Ukraine

Andriy Oliynyk, President of the Kraków branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Poland (AUP), in an interview with Magiczny Kraków, explained how the Ukrainian community in Poland is helping Ukraine.

“One of our tasks is advocating for Ukraine internationally and lobbying for its interests. Half a year before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, everyone familiar with politics or military strategy knew where everything was heading. Therefore, the initial actions of the leaders of Ukrainian diaspora associations worldwide were aimed at raising awareness among the public and the authorities of individual countries,” Oliynyk explained.

In particular, shortly before Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine began, the AUP appealed to the President and Prime Minister of Poland to intensify diplomatic efforts and prepare for possible Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“We organized social events to support Ukraine, with thousands of people participating. The tension was immense. At the end of February 2022, events were unfolding rapidly. Immediately after the Russian invasion, we announced that there would be an indefinite Ukrainian demonstration outside the Russian consulate,” recalls the President of the AUP’s Kraków branch.

According to Oliynyk, although spontaneous actions are not sustainable indefinitely, the community has mobilized for prolonged efforts. They have set up structured volunteer support for Ukraine, which includes sending aid and assisting war refugees.

“After a massive operation to receive, accommodate, and register refugees, we started providing civilian population in Ukraine and soldiers with what they needed most. Everyone started collecting and delivering humanitarian aid, generators, equipment for the army. We imported medicines, organized transportation, went to the border. Like many organizations, we had to urgently learn to do things that no one had done before. As part of the Ukrainian World Congress and the Association of Ukrainians in Poland, we paved the way and developed new structures necessary for effective work in the new reality,” says Oliynyk.

Eventually, institutions and organizations identified the most effective forms of assistance they could offer, leading to a strategic distribution of tasks.

“The assistance we managed to organize – and which we still implement – would have been impossible without the flexibility of the institutions we worked with, as well as the human desire to do more, empathy,” adds Oliynyk.

Now, besides aiding Ukrainians in Ukraine, the AUP’s Kraków branch actively lobbies for the establishment of a Ukrainian House in Kraków.

“The growing Ukrainian minority in Kraków increasingly needs a permanent meeting place where it could identify itself. A center that would bring together under one roof various organizations related to Ukraine, but currently dispersed. It would be a place for their dialogue and cooperation,” says Oliynyk.

Oliynyk emphasizes that a Ukrainian house would facilitate access to reliable information and assistance for both Ukrainians and Poles seeking contact with Ukrainian culture or business.

“In general, if we talk about our mission – protecting the interests of Ukrainians and supporting Ukraine – it remains unchanged over the decades. Only the ongoing war in Ukraine has given these slogans an absolutely new dimension and content. Currently, our branch specializes in organizing medical aid and military assistance, if it does not exceed our competence. We also continue to promote Ukrainian culture, strive to represent our homeland decently, work on strengthening civil society and democratic values in Ukraine,” summarizes Oliynyk.

Cover: Piotr Wojnarowski