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Why is there such a large Slavic community in Sacramento?

Sacramento is home to one of the largest Slavic populations in the United States.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento is home to one of the largest Slavic populations in the United States with many coming from Ukraine.

"Like, hundreds of years ago, we have a story with Sacramento," said Ruslan Gurzhiy, chief editor of Slavic Sacramento.

Gurzhiy has done a lot of research into the local Russian and Ukrainian community and how they came to the capital city. He immigrated to the United States in 2001 and estimates around 100 Russian and Ukrainian churches are in the Sacramento area. He says churches and religion played a large role in growing the local Slavic population.

"That's how a lot of people know Sacramento," said Gurzhiy. "So there's a New York, but we knew that there were some American churches in Sacramento who actually helped our people a lot."

Gurzhiy's research dates back to 1917. He says after the Russian Revolution started, many people from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine started immigrating to Sacramento in search of a better life. 

In 1933 after the Holodomor in Ukraine, he says another wave of Slavic immigrants came to the area. Word continued to spread about Sacramento and now in 2022, Gurzhiy says around 100,000 Slavic immigrants live in the area.

"I've already applied for citizenship, so it's coming within like 7 to 8 months," said Nazar Borukh, who's originally from Ukraine.

Borukh says he came to the Sacramento area as a religious refugee with his family.

"Honestly, it took us a long, long time to get it here — so it took us four years to come from Ukraine all the way here," said Borukh.

Gurzhiy says there could be another wave of Slavic immigrants coming to the Sacramento area in the future as many will try to escape war.

Watch: Explosions heard in Kyiv as Russia presses Ukraine assault