Russians in London protest the Ukrainian war and crack down on the Kremlin

London, England – Hundreds of Russians have called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine on Sunday in central London, protesting the rise of authoritarianism in their country.

The protesters, with the addition of Belarusians and Ukrainians, were a mix of people who had lived in London for many years and young people who arrived in England.

“Now it is important to show that not all Russians support war and the killing of civilians. We are in solidarity with Ukraine,” he said. Alexander (31 years old) who moved from Moscow to London in March and got a new job.

Protesters gathered in London’s Parliament Square near the monument to World War II leader Winston Churchill.

Among the crowd were young Russians dressed in white and blue flags that became a symbol of Russia’s anti-war movement.

Others wore T-shirts with a message of support to prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently in prison on the outskirts of Moscow.

Julia Mineeva

According to Russian-born producer Ksenia, 36, who hosted the event, protesters of all ages set the rally apart from the past.

“Today we have the most diverse crowds here,” she said. “In London, the same people are always in protest. Most of the time, they moved here long ago and don’t go to Russia very often. [But] There are many young people this time. I tried to attract new people who hadn’t come out until now. “

An anti-war rally organized by a local group called the Russians vs. War has been held weekly in London since early April. But Sunday’s rally was the largest such event since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.

32-year-old Liza is the coordinator of the Russians Against War and an IT specialist who emigrated from St. Petersburg to the United Kingdom four years ago. Like her other participants, she demanded that she speak anonymously and freely, telling the Moscow Times that her Sunday protest was the biggest event she had ever held.

Julia Mineeva
Julia Mineeva

Speakers include economist Andrey Movchan, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Foundation Vladimir Ashulkov, Alexei Jimin, editor-in-chief of the local Russian magazine ZIMA, and wife of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. It included a Marina Litvinenko. A person poisoned by polonium in London in 2006.

They were joined by British officials, including Labor Vice John McDonnell and activist and journalist Paul Mason.

The demonstration was held on May 8th, when Britain traditionally marked the end of World War II. The day before the same event took place in Russia, a spectacular celebration was held, including a military parade in major cities.

Much here does not share the excitement that Russian state television broadcast about the day of victory. Victory Day has been used in recent years by President Vladimirputin to increase military pride and promote patriotism.

“I now think of Victory Day in Russia as a celebration of war and show-off, not a celebration of peace,” said Alexander, who was attending a London rally with his wife and baby. ..

Xenia on the right.Julia Mineeva
Xenia on the right.
Julia Mineeva

“War is terrible. It’s not a song or fireworks, it’s a life-threatening tragedy. I’ll ignore the news of the May 9th celebration. It’s hard to see,” three years ago. Diana, a student who moved from the Siberian city of Tumeni to Manchester, said.

Unlike usual years, London did not hold a so-called “Immortal Regiment” march. This is an annual Victory Day demonstration to commemorate hundreds of thousands of Russian and foreign relatives who died in World War II. Putin often attends events in Moscow.

British officials have “banned marches and flowering ceremonies” this year, said Sergey Makarov, co-chair of Russia’s Immortal Regiment movement. Said Press conference in Moscow last month.

Julia Mineeva
Julia Mineeva

Protesters on Sunday also expressed opposition to the intensifying crackdown on anti-government sentiment within Russia. The chanting in favor of Russian and Belarusian political prisoners was heard alongside the chanting for the end of the war in Ukraine.

In London, too, there was fear of retaliation for criticizing the Kremlin and expressing anti-war opinions. Most attendees at the rally refused to give a name, and some attendees hid their faces from the camera.

“Some people are certainly still afraid,” said volunteer Xenia.

Meanwhile, Diana said she was happy to stand next to Big Ben and raise the blue and white flags without fear of being arrested.

“I’m here for my Russian friend who can’t protest because the Russian people aren’t allowed to express their opinions publicly,” she said. Russians in London protest the Ukrainian war and crack down on the Kremlin

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