Local Ukrainians believe crash a game changer for their homeland

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 17 at 7:06 PM

RENTON, Wash. -- The crash hits home for the tens of thousands of Ukrainian Americans living in Washington state, who have watched the conflict tear apart their homeland. And now many of them hope the Malaysian Airlines crash will bring about change.

At the Ukrainian Community Center of Washington in Renton, executive director Oleg Pynda shares the news of the crash to a group of seniors. Many of them have lived in this country for years, but their hearts ache over the conflict in their homeland.

"Crimea was taken away, but nobody cares," said Pynda. "Now eastern Ukraine is under fire, nobody cares."

Pynda says as tragic as the loss of life was in this crash, it may get the world to focus more attention at the hostile region of Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainian security forces there for months.

"To look at what is happening in the Ukraine and the rest of the world trying to close their eyes," said Pynda. "Now they open it up because 300 people have been killed, but what next? Are they going to shut their eyes again or are they really planning to do something about it."

Twenty-five-year-old Yuri Zaremba, a Ukrainian American who works for a major tech company in Seattle, is cautious to point blame either side for the crash too soon. But he believes it's a game changer.

"We feel like we're at a tipping point where this thing is going to blow over and the rebels have to lay down arms, or the international community is going to get involved and it's going to be a much more critical crisis," said Zaremba.

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