Blue and yellow flags fluttered opposite Downing Street, the seat of the British government, on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon, where a speaker reminded Londoners that Ukraine was defending a frontline equivalent in distance between Barcelona and Warsaw.
A few hundred protesters passionately urged the world to finally wake up and give Ukraine the military muscle needed to defeat their enemy. The speaker Oleksandr, from Vinnytsya, now resident in London, said: “It is quite a distance to hold and protect, which is why we need humanitarian, economic, and more importantly, military aid.”
Speaking on Sunday, Oct. 23, he said: “Russia is obsessed with power, but Ukrainian soldiers have proven they can act tactically, strategically and, with the right weapons, put an end to this existential threat.
“That is why we need the weapons we have been promised. Desperate times require desperate actions. This is no longer a time for promises, to stand aside, this is the time to act, finally the world must wake up.”
Oleksandr, whose brother’s family had barely escaped from Mariupol with their lives, said Putin’s Russia had started the war by weaponizing energy, food, and its propaganda journalists were now playing the victim game, blaming everything on the West and Europeans.
“Russia has crossed many red lines,” he said. “How many more Ukrainian civilians will have to die – brutally, unlawfully killed by the Russian illegal regime before the world will say ‘enough is enough’. There will be no security and stability in the world if there is an ongoing war on the European continent.”
Abdul Malik, a Chechen blogger, echoed those views.
He said: “Together we are strong and Russia will never win. We have to think what Russia has been doing in Chechnya. Russia killed 300,000 innocent Chechens.
“This message is especially to the Western and civilised world. With your silence, you let them kill hundreds of thousands of Chechen people, 42,000 Chechen children. Now is the time to wake up and fully support Ukraine. We don’t want hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Chechens to be killed.”
Malik had the words “Freedom For Amina” daubed on his placard. He wanted to raise the issue of Amina Gerikhanova, a native of Chechnya, who was tortured by Kadyrovites, soldiers who are led by the brutal Ramzan Kadyrov, a close Putin ally and head of Russia’s Chechen Republic. “These are not Chechens, Kadyrovites are traitors, every nation has traitors, ” he said.
“They are torturing, kidnapping and raping innocent people, including males. We are campaigning against Russian terror in Chechnya, in Ukraine. Amina Gerikhanova fled from Chechnya because of the Russian-run government and she found refuge in Ukraine where she has lived for more than five years.
“When Russia started bombing Ukraine she fled to Romania where she was arrested, because the Russian terrorist state had placed her on the Interpol system, blaming her for being in Syria and participating with ISIS (Islamic State). They now want to extradite her to Russia.”
Anna was dressed in red with the same color paint running down from her eyes to signify blood tears. Standing with her group, which is called Women Fight 4 UA, she said: “We require the world not just to condemn, but to participate and protect Ukraine, to help us with air defences, long missile systems so that we can fight this evil. Ukraine needs urgent weapons to defend itself.
“Russia is brutally destroying Ukrainian cities. It is using Belarusian territory to attack us. Russia is killing civilians every single day, so many, that we have lost count.
“Our civilians have been found in mass graves, with no names, because of Russia’s torture. Russia is destroying our infrastructure, Russia wants us not to live through the winter. These are clear signs of genocide.
“This tactic was used by Nazis during World War Two, and now Russia is repeating this. Russia wants to wipe Ukraine from the face of the Earth, just because we are Ukrainians.
“We did not provoke Russia, but it has been bombing us heavily since 2014, and now they have launched a proper war, whereby they kill our children daily. Russia speaks about Ukrainian Nazis, and comes up with all sorts of propaganda to justify their terrorism, but the truth is that Russia is the terrorist.”
Maria was holding her pet dog Pixel, a mixed Papillon and Chihuahua breed. She told me: “My relatives in Lviv constantly live in fear, even though they are far from the war zone. Luckily we have soldiers there for any attacks. It is affecting me in many different ways. My mental health is very bad. I have to check on them every day because I don’t know what might happen.”
British protester John said: “Ukraine is standing up for Europe and the rest of the world against what is a Communist mafia government of terrorism. It is the same as the Islamic state, there is no difference between them.”
John had been supporting Ukraine since 2014, but now more frequently since the open full-scale war, whereas prior to Feb. 24, 2022 it was done with complete denials from the Kremlin.
John’s connection with the country was his Ukrainian friends and he had traveled there just a year before the war. He went on: “I empathise with Ukrainian people, because I know something about world history.
“When you look at Afghanistan, they outnumbered the enemy by three to one, had all the modern weapons, but when the Taliban came, they gave in almost immediately, and their leaders fled the country.
“Whereas the Ukrainians did the exact opposite of the Afghan army, they stood and fought. The resilience of the Ukrainian people is just astounding. I would say they are the best army in the world.”
Khrystyna from Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk, expressed her love and support for her country. Now working in a hotel in London, she couldn’t believe her home town was now a target for bombs.
A minute’s silence was also observed at the rally in memory of all the fallen soldiers of Ukraine. A couple of weeks earlier I had found out that one of my wife’s cousins, who was in the Ukrainian army had died. When the protest resumed, I added my voice to the chant: “Altogether we will win.”
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Comments ( 1)
Thank you so much for this article! It's very well-written. Many articles about the Ukrainian protests in London do not mention the organisers, etc. but this one does - excellent journalism!