Support for Ukraine at Capitol amid concerns of pushback targeting Russian immigrants

From the Texas Capitol to the Ukrainian capitol, the words of support from a group were heard Monday afternoon half a world away as part of a live interview with a TV station in Kyiv. 

Sabina Zeynalova was among those who spoke. She sent a message to her parents, urging them to be strong and to stay safe. They are taking shelter in a basement with others as Russian bombs explode above in the Kyvi. 

Sabina is a UT student and told FOX 7 the past several days have been stressful.

"Oh, it has been very tough, it’s very tough and emotional draining, you check the phone all the time, trying to see if they are ok," said Zeynalova.

For Sabina and others at the protest rally, this is the only way right now to join the fight. 

Along with calls for military aid, there are calls for economic boycotts. For some, that economic pain should also be felt by businesses, owned by Russian immigrants, in the United States.

"I don't want to sound rude, but it should be toxic to be a Russian right now when they kill innocent people. I don't know, that's all I can say," said recent Ukrainian immigrant Max Karabelskyi.

There are several cases in American history where immigrants have felt backlash because of something their native country has done. FOX 7 spoke to Political Analyst Brian Smith, with St. Edwards University, about how Russian immigrants could become targets for hate.

"There's a lot of potential for collateral damage when we look at the United States in the 20th and 21st century," said Smith.

Smith said acts of anger have range from internment camps to what's on a menu.

"In 2002, France said, 'we're not going to support the US invasion of Iraq.' They didn't veto it in the UN. But what that caused was a backlash against France and French products and people calling French Toast, Freedom Toast or American toast and freedom fries states talking about boycotts of French goods. So that was more lighthearted and effective," Smith said. "But when we think about anti-German sentiment among Americans, said German American citizens during World War I and just the gross. Awfulness of what we did to American citizens in World War II, this can have a very nasty outcome if people take their views against the country and start taking it against American citizens."

During the broadcast on Ukrainian TV, Dina Thompson, who is a Russian immigrant with family in the Ukraine, voiced her opposition to the invasion. FOX 7 asked if she is worried about becoming a target.

"I am strong woman. I am worried now about my country, I worry about my parents. I worry about my girls," said Thompson.

She went on to say she would not take it personally if a person shouts out at her just for being a Russian native. Thompson and her husband called on more Russian immigrants to join them in speaking out.

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