Anti-war demonstrations across Europe, small rallies in Russia

Tens of thousands of people gathered in cities across Europe on Sunday to protest against Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, with small vigils also being held in Russia despite authorities cracking down on such protests.
German unions called for a protest in Berlin, where sunny weather boosted turnout. The march took place from Alexanderplatz, a large square named after Russian Tsar Alexander I, to a site near the Brandenburg Gate.

Many participants carried flags in the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine, while others carried banners reading “Stop the war” and “Peace and solidarity for the Ukrainian people”.

Norbert Herring, who held up a sign reading “What are you doing to your neighbour?” As the crowd passed by the Russian Embassy, ​​he said the images from Ukraine reminded him of the bombing of cities during World War II.

Several participants in the Berlin protest said they were Russians embarrassed by what their country was doing.

“We are against this war, so we wanted to show our solidarity,” said Aleksandra Belozerova, a Russian studying in Germany. “It’s the least we can do in this situation.”

Her friend, Aliia Biktagirova, held a sign with letters of the Russian phrase for “No war” represented by asterisks to reflect the censorship she says is taking place in Russia regarding the conflict.

People carry flags and banners during an anti-war demonstration ‘Stop the war. Peace and solidarity for the Ukrainian people’, to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on Strasse des 17. Juni, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Germany, March 13, 2022. REUTERS / Lisi Niesner

In Russia, where anti-war protests in Ukraine have generally drawn a strong police response, human rights group OVD-Info said more than 668 people had been arrested in 36 cities by the end of the war. afternoon, Moscow time.

There was a heavy police presence in central locations, including Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin, with officers herding protesters into waiting police vans, in footage released by Russian media. The number of people protesting across the country appeared to be much lower than the last major demonstrations a week ago, when OVD-Info counted more than 5,000 people in detention.

Anti-war demonstrations were also held in Warsaw, London and in the German cities of Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

A small far-right party staged a protest in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The occupants of dozens of cars waved Russian and Serbian flags, honked their horns and chanted slogans in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some cars had a “Z” painted on them – the letter is used on Russian armored vehicles in Ukraine and is now a symbol of support for Russian troops.

Despite formally applying for European Union membership, Serbia has refused to join international sanctions against its ally Russia despite voting in favor of the UN resolution condemning Moscow’s aggression. The country’s mainstream state-controlled media frequently publish pro-Russian reporting on the war.

In the aftermath of protests in Florence and Naples, Italians and Ukrainians living in Italy traveled on Sunday to demonstrate in Milan and Rome against the war in Ukraine.

In the front row of a march in Milan, Italy’s financial capital, protesters carried bundles of bloodstained tissue to represent children killed in Russian attacks on Ukrainians. Some children held drawings and many protesters painted their cheeks in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Ahead of the march, protesters unfurled a huge rainbow-colored peace flag in a square in Milan.

During the Rome march, one of the participants held a cardboard sign that read ‘Close the skies’, an apparent reference to Ukraine’s request for NATO to establish an exclusion zone aircraft over Ukraine against Russian fighter jets. The Italian government, like those of other NATO allies, has ruled out the option of a no-fly zone, saying such a move would risk significantly widening the conflict in Europe.

Pope condemns war in Ukraine

Pope Francis has denounced the “barbarism” of killing children and other helpless civilians in Ukraine. He told a crowd estimated by the Vatican at 25,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his usual Sunday midday appearance that the attacks must stop “before the cities are reduced to cemeteries”.

In Cyprus, dozens of Russian citizens joined Ukrainians in the resort town of Limassol on Sunday to protest against the war in Ukraine. Around 50 Russians converged on the Limassol waterfront before joining other protesters in chanting slogans such as ‘Stop the war, stop Putin’ and waving blue and white flags indicating where the national flag was. Russian without the red band representing “blood and violence”.

Protester Evgeniya Shlykova, who has lived and worked in Cyprus for five years, told The Associated Press that despite Russian propaganda, Ukraine “did not deserve this action from our government” and protesters demand an immediate end to the war. do not support”.

“I think the person who has done the most to weaken Russia and not unite it is Putin himself,” said Shlykova, who blamed the Russian president and his supporters for drawing the anger of the world against Russia, proud of its humanistic and cultural values. . “But now Russia is the aggressor of the whole world, and we protest that.”

Earlier Sunday, Ukrainian citizens in Taiwan and their supporters also staged a march in Taipei to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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