Local Ukrainian minister speaks about crisis

Minister concerned for family in Ukraine

Published On: Mar 03 2014 10:33:42 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 04 2014 07:02:11 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The unrest in Ukraine and the ongoing Russian invasion of the Eastern European country has local immigrants concerned.

Paul Muzichuk moved to the United States as a boy in the late '80s. Now a Jacksonville minister, he finds himself praying for his family and friends still in Ukraine who are dealing with unrest from both their own government and their neighbor Russia.

“There’s people waiting 10 (people) deep at ATMs getting out cash,” said Muzichuk. “The bankers are trying to calm everyone down, but everybody is trying to get as much money as possible because they're not certain what’s happening.”

Muzichuk said the situation has become more tense in recent days with the Russian invasion because it's centered around Crimea, which has a huge population of Russian supporters.

“Russia has a big role in the strategic placement of the government now and because of where they are in Crimea, it's about 60 percent pro-Russian Ukraninans,” said Muzichuk

Things could get harder for both the Ukrainians and Russians as many western countries are talking economic sanctions.

Channel 4 received a statement from Florida Sen. Bill Nelson Monday night saying he supports immediate economic sanctions against Russia.

Muzichuk said he hasn't seen this much unrest in Ukraine since he fled in 1988 due to religious persecution. He said back then people weren't allowed to publicly practice Christianity, but now that he shepherds his own church in America he's praying for his homeland.

“We believe that America has a great part in helping Ukraine because of their standing in world as a refuge to a lot of people,” said Muzichuk. “That's why we came here to America, to seek religious freedom. I'm a product of that. (I'm) a Christian minister and I love America.”