The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Demonstration for Peace gathers on Pentacrest as invasion in Ukraine continues

Several community members, with ties to both Ukraine and Russia, stood on the Pentacrest on Sunday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


Gabby Drees

Demonstrators gather during a rally for peace in Ukraine on the Pentacrest at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Around 60 people attended the demonstration.

Rachel Schilke, Senior Print Editor

The sky was clear and the sun was shining on the Ukrainian flag as over 60 people gathered on the Pentacrest, holding signs and waving blue-and-yellow flags, to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in a call for peace.

According to CNBC, as of Sunday, Russia is continuing to advance into Ukraine and has surrounded Kyiv, but the Ukraine administration states the capitol remains “completely controlled by the Ukrainian army and defense.”

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has agreed to send representatives to meet Russian delegates at the Ukraine-Belarus border at an unknown date “with no preconditions.” According to the United Nations, over 360,000 people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.

For Iowa City resident Veronica Tessler, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is personal, as her father is a Soviet Union immigrant from Kyiv.

Tessler, owner of Iowa City’s Yotopia Frozen Yogurt and Nosh Cafe & Eatery in Des Moines, said her father left Ukraine in 1973, but still has childhood friends in the country, who her family attempts to keep in contact with daily.

She said her initial reaction to the violence was devastation.

“This is a country that’s faced so much in the 20th century, and we never thought that the day would come that this kind of terror would be brought to the ground there in Kyiv and across the country,” she said.

Tessler added it was amazing to see how many people came to gather to call for peace.

“I think connecting with others who are peace-loving people from all sides to lend our support for the Ukrainians — it’s just nice to gather and to meet others who have different stories, but we share a connection,” she said.

Among the protesters were veterans from Veterans for Peace, University of Iowa students and faculty, and several Ukrainian and Russian Iowa City residents.

The official demonstration was actually canceled after the organizer, a UI professor, received threats, according to UI Professor of Russian language and culture Anna Kolesnikova Dyer. That, however, did not stop the crowd from coming to support the cause.

Kolesnikova Dyer, who is from Russia, said she could not believe the nation launched war with Ukraine.

“The whole idea that Russia is the aggressor of the war, it just, like, shatters my whole heart,” she said with tears in her eyes.

Kolesnikova Dyer reached out to several of her students to come to the demonstration with her, and one, India Clay, attended with her professor. Clay has been to Russia before and said she believes Americans have the wrong idea about the opinions of most Russian people toward the invasion.

“I met the people, I spent time there, and I know that there is a difference between the people and the government,” Clay said.

Oleg Timofeyev, 59, originally from Moscow, said taking a job teaching in Kyiv was an illuminating experience for him, as he was able to distinguish the truth between what he was taught about Ukraine and what was reality.

He said growing up, he was taught that Kyiv was the origin of his country, and that Ukrainians were unreliable and traitors to Russia. He said, however, learning the whole history of Ukraine changed his outlook completely.

Timofeyev, who has lived in the U.S. for 33 years, taught a course at the UI about Ukrainian culture. He said he hopes he can teach that course again somewhere in Iowa City in the future.

“What we see right now is terrible news, and as we can see, a lot of people are here, neither from Ukraine, from Russia — Iowans get it,” he said. “I think they should know more. That’s the problem with our news machine, that when there is a military operation, we hear about it. When it’s quiet, we forget completely about the country.”

Olena Betts, who is originally from Ukraine and has lived in the U.S. for 21 years, said there is a lot of misinformation about Ukrainians, and she hopes through this conflict that Iowans will begin to understand that Ukraine is a peaceful nation that wants to be left alone.

Betts said because she cannot be with her family in Ukraine, she made it a priority to come to the demonstration.

“Right now, there’s bombs flying over the buildings where the civilians live. It’s not about military action somewhere on the outskirts of cities — it’s within towns,” she said. “It’s aggression against peaceful people.”

So far, Betts said she has been able to keep in contact with her family using social media.

When she first heard the news about the invasion, she said she was not shocked because to her, the war started in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea.

“It’s not like it’s anything new, it’s just the world wasn’t paying attention,” Betts said. “And now, everybody woke up and realized, ‘Oh, yeah, this is what’s going on.’”

Ed Flaherty, a member of Veterans for Peace who served in Germany from 1966-68, spoke to the crowd about the danger of a potential nuclear war, and said in an interview that there hasn’t been this close of a threat since Cuba in 1962.

He said there needs to be a peaceful deescalation in the long run, but in the meantime, Americans should should support Ukrainians who are defending their homes and the Russian protesters.

“The world needs peace, and you don’t get peace by just talking,” Flaherty said. “…The people of Russia who are on the sidewalks are being carted off to jail one after another. That’s immense courage. If what would come out of this would be some sort of ‘Hate Russia’ kind of thing, that would totally miss the point.”

Michelle “Shelly” Servadio Elias, state chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Veterans Caucus, said she wakes every morning to check the news and see if Ukraine made it through the night.

She said if the world doesn’t stand up to Putin now, she fears the situation could escalate into a world war.

“It’s just like what happened in history with Hilter: appeasement never works. That’s so important for us to learn from history,” she said. “If you just say, ‘Oh, give him this little bit and see what happens, maybe he’ll stop,’ he will not stop.”

Servadio Elias said that, if Russia gets through Ukraine, he will be at the backdoor of several NATO countries.

“They hold the line,” she said.

She added that every human deserves basic human rights, and in this conflict, it should not be anti-Russia, it should be pro-democracy and pro human rights.

“The Russian people see that in their fellow human beings, that their sovereign rights to be self-governed be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.

About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Schilke
Rachel Schilke, Senior Print Editor

Rachel Schilke is the Senior Print Editor and one of the Projects Editors at The Daily Iowan. She is a senior at the University of Iowa...

Navigate Left
  • Iowa guard Molly Davis hugs assistant coach Raina Harmon during a basketball game with No. 6 Iowa and No. 2 Ohio State inside a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, on Sunday, March 3, 2024. The Hawkeyes upset the Buckeyes, 93-83, on senior night.


    Iowa women’s basketball’s Molly Davis’ injury not season-ending

  • A Nike advertisement of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is seen on The Edge building on East Burlington Street in downtown Iowa City on Saturday, March 2, 2024. The poster was put up in the early morning.

    Breaking News

    Caitlin Clark passes Pete Maravich for NCAA all-time scoring record

  • A Nike advertisement commemorates Iowa guard Caitlin Clark’s scoring record on the southeast corner of the Capitol Street Garage in Iowa City on Sunday, Mar. 3, 2024. The poster was hung after Clark sank a free throw just before half-time, passing Pistol Pete Maravich’s record for most points in NCAA collegiate basketball.

    Caitlin Clark

    Caitlin Clark Nike ad campaign continues with new Capitol Street Garage banner

  • Iowa guard Caitlin Clark walks onto the court during a women’s basketball game between No. 4 Iowa and Michigan State in a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 76-73. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 76-73.


    Seniors shine during No. 6 Iowa women’s basketball win against No. 2 Ohio State

  • A Nike advertisement of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is seen on The Edge building on East Burlington Street in downtown Iowa City on Saturday, March 2, 2024. The poster was put up in the early morning.

    Caitlin Clark

    Caitlin Clark become NCAA leading scorer, breaking Pete Maravich’s long-standing record

  • A Nike advertisement of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is seen on The Edge building on East Burlington Street in downtown Iowa City on Saturday, March 2, 2024. The poster was put up in the early morning.

    Caitlin Clark

    Seven-story Caitlin Clark Nike ad unveiled in downtown Iowa City

  • Iowa guard Caitlin Clark walks into the arena during the Ally Tipoff, a basketball game between No. 3 Iowa and No. 8 Virginia Tech at Spectrum Arena in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hokies, 80-76.

    Caitlin Clark

    Iowa women’s basketball’s Caitlin Clark speaks on her decision to declare for WNBA Draft

  • Photo illustration by Lillie Hawker.


    State dismisses all sports betting charges

  • Iowa guard Caitlin Clark celebrates a 3-pointer during Crossover at Kinnick, a women’s exhibition basketball game between Iowa and DePaul, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. The Hawkeyes enter the 2023-24 season after advancing to the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history last year and winning a program-best 31 games in a single season in the 2022-23 season. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Demons, 94-72.

    Breaking News

    Iowa women’s basketball’s Caitlin Clark forgoes final season of eligibility, declares for WNBA Draft

  • Iowa guard Caitlin Clark shoots a three-pointer during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.

    Breaking News

    No. 6 Iowa women’s basketball torches Minnesota from deep in blowout win

Navigate Right