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Ukrainians in Edmonton react to unfolding tension within Russia

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Some in Edmonton's Ukrainian community are cautiously optimistic about how Ukraine might benefit from the recent tension from within Russia and wonder if the instability might play a role in ending the war.

Saturday in downtown Edmonton, the Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts was packed with patrons at the organization's annual Ukrainian Vintage Fair.

But for many of the visitors at the fair, with strong ties to Ukraine, one eye was on the art and the other on the unfolding tension within Russia.

Evgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the private fighting group known as "Wagner" has been lashing out at senior military and government officials and has threatened to march on Moscow.

Nobody wants to say, we don't want to celebrate, obviously, this," said Bohdan Hnat. "But it's a sign that Russia is vulnerable."

Hnat left Ukraine three years ago, but he has three relatives fighting on the front lines to try and keep the Russian invasion at bay.

"What’s going to happen to Russia is the secondary question," he said. "The number one is, if Russia loses the war, Putin is gone."

Daniel Fedyk, a blacksmith in Edson, is sending the money he raises from selling his art at the fair back to Ukraine to help support soldiers and residents displaced by the war.

As for the apparent struggle within Russia, which now appears to have ceased, he wonders if it will at least enlighten the country's population.

"I have friends in Russia, it was all propaganda. There was only state-run media," Fedyk said. "If you only have state-run media, you believe what they’re saying."

What is driving the recent chaos within Russia over the past 24-hours, Fedyk added, is no different from what led Russia to war against Ukraine last year.

"It’s all power. These people started from nothing and then all of a sudden they got to be billionaires, it's went to their head," he added.  

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