Disillusion in Ukrainian Village

In Chicago's Ukrainian Village, both the U.S. and Ukrainian flags are proudly flown. Source: Spencer Kimball for Handelsblatt
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    As relations with Russia deteriorate, the next U.S. president will face pressure to increase sanctions against Moscow and send weapons to the Ukrainian military.

  • Facts


    • Chicago is home to 100,000 Ukrainians, one of the largest Ukrainian diaspora communities in the United States.
    • There is deep concern in the Ukrainian-American community that Republican candidate Donald Trump is too friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin and will sacrifice Ukraine if elected president.
    • Many Ukrainian Americans are leaning toward Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but they view the Obama administration’s current sanctions policy as too timid.
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The domes of St. Nicholas Catholic church tower above Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, its leafy streets and three-story, flat-top brick apartment buildings.

After the Sunday morning mass in Ukrainian, the congregation migrates downstairs for coffee and pastries. George Matwyshyn, a retired laboratory manager, serves as a parishioner at St. Nicholas.

Founded in 1915, St. Nicholas is both an architectural landmark and an anchor of the community, offering weekend classes that teach children about the Ukrainian language and culture.

Like many Ukrainian-Americans of his generation, Mr. Matwyshyn’s parents emigrated to the United States following the Second World War. His father was a partisan who fought against the Soviets.

Far from being a party ideologue, he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 and socialist Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton this year.

Now Mr. Matwyshyn, 65, is leaning toward picking Ms. Clinton on November 8, but only because he’s sure that Mr. Trump will be bad for Ukraine. The former secretary of state is harder for him to read.

“The situation is disgusting,” Mr. Matwyshyn said of the election. “Trump will sell Eastern Europe down the river, Clinton may or may not.”

The St. Nicholas parishioner is part of a community of some 100,000 Ukrainians in Chicago, which has one of the largest Ukrainian diaspora communities in the United States.

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