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‘People want peace’: Leader of Canada’s Doukhobors laments Russian invasion of Ukraine

J.J. Verigin Jr. says the Doukhobor community has family on both sides of the conflict’s borders
J.J. Verigin Jr. is the executive director of the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ Doukhobors. Photo: Jensen Edwards (2020)

With friends and family on both sides of the Russia and Ukraine conflict, the leader of Canada’s Doukhobors says it is a sad day for his community and people everywhere.

After weeks of increasing tensions, Russia ignored global criticism and sanctions and launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 using airstrikes, tanks, ground troops and sea-based missiles.

Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ Doukhobors executive director J.J. Verigin Jr. told Black Press he has heard from people whose loved ones have been witnessing “the tragedy of warfare — whether it is explosions or artillery or airstrikes or planes flying overhead.”

“We have always stood for and worked for peace, because once conflict starts it cuts like a hot knife through families, through friendships and everyone suffers except for the people who profit from everyone’s misery,” said Verigin.

“We are united in our prayers that the hostilities there cease as quickly as possible.”

The Doukhobors are known for their pacifism and Verigin said the conflict in their homeland will cause numerous people to suffer.

“People want peace, yet we can’t seem to put an end to war,” he said.

“Everyone seems to be gearing up for the fight, instead of trying to make peace, ratcheting up the tension — by doing that, they just increase the terror.”

Verigin wishes there was more that Canada could do to bring about peace abroad and at home.

“You don’t have to go to Ukraine to witness divisiveness in a population — look what we’ve witnessed in Canada in the last several weeks.”

“Because of COVID we have had to step into a virtual world and it seems like we have lost our humanity by crossing that threshold. I hope we can recover it, because if we don’t then we deserve exactly what we are going to get.”

As the invasion continues, NATO allies met on Friday. Some NATO member countries, including Canada, have promised supplies or troops to Ukraine. But NATO itself has not, since Ukraine is not a member.

RELATED: Sketchy details from Russia complicate invasion coverage

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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