Many Russians joined the Trafalgar Square rally on Sunday, holding up placards with messages like: ‘Russia against the war’.
27 February 2022
Russians in the UK have joined Ukrainian protesters to criticise the “shame” and “nightmare” of the invasion.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square, central London on Sunday to protest against Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
Many Russians joined the rally, led by Ukrainian community leaders, holding up placards with messages like: “Russians do not want the war”.
Several described the “very close” ties between the two countries, calling Ukrainians “brothers and sisters” and “best friends” and spoke about President Vladimir Putin’s lack of support.
Maria Divid, 35, who has lived in the UK for 14 years but is originally from Moscow, told the PA news agency, that she and her fellow Russians are “absolutely devastated and ashamed”.
She said: “Me and all my Russian friends here are completely devastated and ashamed.
“We did not want this war.
“We are absolutely devastated about what our country is doing in the 21st Century.”
Ms David said hardly any of her friends support President Putin and she is proud of her 69-year-old mother back in Moscow who has not been “zombified” by his propaganda machine.
“Putin is really the worst thing that has happened to Russia.
“With him, there is no future for Russia. We want him out,” she said.
Andrei Postylyakov, 35, who is from St Petersburg but has been in the UK for just a month, said attending the protest is “the least I can do” adding that he is “frustrated and very sorry” about what is happening in Ukraine.
“It is a shame that we have lots of friends and our people are brothers and sisters so we are ground together with Ukrainians.
“It is a crazy thing happening now and it is like a nightmare.
“It should be stopped as soon as possible.”
He also described how his friends in Russia are unable to go out into the street to protest without going to prison.
“It is hard to protest in Russia because there is a war inside which is aimed against its own citizens.”
“But we want to fix our country and make it grow without Putin,” he added.
Sophie, 24, whose family comes from Moscow and did not want to share her last name out of fear of repercussions, said: “This is not what Russia wants.
“This is not for the benefit of Russians.
“In the UK, we have the freedom to come out here and say what we want to say.
She added it is therefore “important” for Russians abroad to “come out and stand out against the war because if you say nothing you are complicit.”
“Russians and Ukrainians, we are sisters, we are brothers, we are neighbours,” she said, adding that her family feel “anger”, “shame” and “devastation”.
Dasha, 33, who also was nervous to share her last name, explained how she is attending protests with dozens of other Russians in the UK who met over a messenger app group that was first set up when opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained last year.
She said: “This is unbelievable. We are all in shock. It is heartbreaking. We do not have our country anymore.”
She called the Kremlin “miserable”, adding: “They do not have hearts because they bomb their best friends.
“It is absolutely crazy.”
Meanwhile, Darina Nazarova, 27, who was born in Siberia, said most of her family are Ukrainian.
“I spent half my life in Ukraine,” she said.
“We are very close with the country and I have friends from Russia here and everyone is really upset because we all have relatives in Ukraine.”
Crowds at the protest also chanted: “Stop Putin. Stop the War” and carried signs saying “Putler Get Off” and “Save Ukraine. Save democracy.”
In between speeches, demonstrators sang Bez Boyu, a Ukrainian song by artist Okean Elzi, which means: “I won’t give up without a fight”.
In a speech to the crowd, Natalia Ravlyuk, a volunteer who helped organise the protest, called Mr Putin “crazy”, adding: “He is a monkey with a grenade.”
She said: “Russian army needs to go home.
“They need to return to their families.”