A march and rally that took place on Saturday, August 27 in the English Midlands city of Nottingham brought together around 350 people to mark six months since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The local community had marked Ukrainian Independence Day just three days earlier. Local residents, the local Ukrainian community and recently arrived people were all present to raise awareness of the war and to highlight the continued resolve of Ukrainians.
People met at Speakers Corner by the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham before marching to Sneinton Market. Banners were on display highlighting Russian war crimes, nuclear terrorism, and demanding the release of POWs illegally sentenced to death, including Nottinghamshire man Aiden Aslin. A group of protestors from the local Hong Kong campaign also joined the march in solidarity with their own struggle against an oppressive dictatorship.
At Sneinton Market supporters gave messages of solidarity and Ukrainians spoke about their experiences.
Michael Holod, branch chair of the Nottingham Ukrainian Cultural Centre, began proceedings.
“Since February 24 we have witnessed with our own eyes the evil that the cancer we know as Putin has spread and will be accountable for…We now have displaced adults and children amongst us here in Nottingham and in the UK at large, ask them what they have witnessed and why they have left their country if you have doubts about any of the Western media.
“The support in the UK must continue and we are forever grateful to anyone who has made a donation of any kind and in particular those who have opened their hearts and homes to Ukrainian refugees,” Mr Holod stressed. He was also very critical of Russia’s propaganda machine.
Activists like Zhenya Myronenko also spoke. She hails from Kherson, which has been occupied since the first days of the war. Zhenya spoke of how she had managed to flee to Lviv before getting to Poland and eventually the UK.
“When I got to Poland someone there told me about the UK program that supports Ukrainians. I applied and waited about six weeks for my application to be processed.
“At the refugee centre in Poland there was a lot of noise, always from people and their pets. When I finally got to the UK in June I slept for ages. My host and the local Ukrainian Cultural Centre have been very supportive.”
Pete Radcliff, NUSC organiser, told those present: “European governments including Britain are not doing enough to combat the hugely wealthy oligarchs behind Putin. By Zelensky’s own reports, at the start of the war every government thought Ukraine would be defeated in a matter of days. Even now, many Western governments and businesses are keen to return to ‘business as usual’ with the Russian regime. We must not allow that… We must make sure that arms are supplied urgently to Ukraine for it to defeat the Russian army…Above all, the Russian invasion must be beaten back.”
Local man Michael Skrobot, spoke passionately about the efforts of so many to tackle the consequences of Russia’s war. Mentioning the hospitality shown by British people, he noted that “people are doing extraordinary things by opening up their homes.” While others, he underlined, are assisting in various ways and some are even going over to fight so that justice can prevail.
Ukrainian children staged a performance of a locally produced short play. The play showed a young lady who represented Ukraine with her children and possessions being stolen by people wearing the Russian ‘Z’ for invasion symbol. It represented the impact of war on Ukraine as well as the resolve of Ukrainian people to overcome the invasion and the support from other countries around the world.
The event was organized by the Nottingham Ukraine Solidarity Campaign and the Nottingham branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain. More information and photos at @NottsUkraine.
At least 700 Ukrainians have arrived so far in Nottinghamshire under the government’s scheme.
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