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Russian ballet's SPAC performance draws Ukrainian protests

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Local Ukrainian-Americans protested outside opening night of Russia's Bolchoi Ballet Tuesday night in an effort to spread their opposition of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

"We just want to know about the government, Russian government, Putin and what he tried to do. We want world to know that because not too many people in United States know what's going on over there," said protestor John Suchowcki.

About 30 people held signs, Ukrainian flags and sung songs outside the entrance to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center off Route 50. Some handed out flyers asking for online first-aid kit donations to those attending, but not everyone thought the venue was the proper choice for the protest. 

"These are artists working in the studio every day to perfect their craft. Yeah, they work for bad boy Vlad, he's horrible, but you can't blame them for Ukraine and bombing the plane and everything," said Sherry Smith as she walked into the performance.

SPAC officials said the group was not going to address politics and was only looking forward to putting on a good show. Protest organizers, however, said they while they were not targeting the performers, money raised by the ballet went toward the ongoing conflict and made a good backdrop for the protest. 

"People are going to a Russian ballet today. It's hard for us to reconcile for people who have family there that people dance while others die," said Dr. Andrij Baran, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee's Capital Branch. 

Similar protests are planned for upcoming performances. 

"We care about our country," said Suchowcki. "We want to stop Putin's aggression because he's going more and more every day so he should stop."
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