Conflicts & War

Hundreds of thousands in Europe protest vs. Russian attack on Ukraine

International Desk, Feb 27 (EFE).- Hundreds of thousands of people turned out on Sunday in several European nations to protest Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the largest Western demonstrations coming in Berlin – as well as in several other German cities – and Prague, while thousands of anti-war protesters have been arrested in cities in Russia.

Organizers of the demonstration in the Berlin zone where government offices are located called the protest under the slogan “Stop the war – Peace for Ukraine and all of Europe,” putting the number of people participating in the protest at about half a million, although other reports were on the order of 20,000.

German police, however, spoke of “hundreds of thousands” of anti-war demonstrators gathering at the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column in the nearby Tiergarten park.

The Berlin protest had been called by a broad alliance of organizations lobbying for peace, human rights and protecting the environment, along with various churches and unions.

The demonstrators demanded that the Russian government end its armed attack on Ukraine, withdraw its military forces from the neighboring country and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and they called on the German government to keep the borders open to welcome refugees, media outlets reported.

The president of the Protest Church Council in Germany, Annette Kurschus, condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and said that the Russian “governing warmongering clique” must not fall into a cycle of hatred against its own people.

Meanwhile, the president of public sector German union ver.di – Frank Werneke – called the massive demonstration a clear sign of German solidarity with the Ukrainian people, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is not Russia” and expressing his respect for and solidarity with Russian activists who are demonstrating against their country’s regime.

In downtown Prague, tens of thousands of people turned out to show their support for Ukraine, with artists, businesspeople, students, politicians and local church leaders prominent among the demonstrators.

Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a brief speech to the crowd that “It’s necessary to stop Putin in his tracks, and we know that he doesn’t understand anything except determination and strength.”

He also said that he was certain that the sanctions on Russia agreed on by many European country will hurt the Kremlin.

Fiala’s government has donated ammunition and light weaponry to Kiev, along with making available trains that can carry 6,000 people to help with evacuating refugees, and his administration approved on Sunday at an extraordinary Cabinet session sending military equipment and weapons valued at 16 million euros (about $19 million).

Meanwhile, in Russia during the four days since the Kremlin launched its assault on Ukraine, Russian police and security forces have arrested at least 5,250 people for demonstrating against the war, OVD-info, an organization specializing on tracking the arrests and legal defense of detainees, said Sunday.

The organization, designated by Russian authorities as a “foreign agent,” said that police in St. Petersburg used violence to arrest protesters, injuring at least three demonstrators, while other demonstrations – and arrests – have occurred in Moscow, Kazan, Novosibirsk and Nizhni Novgorod.

Despite the risk of being arrested, however, reports are that hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens have turned out for massive demonstrations against the war, and EFE reporters in the Russian capital verified that about 500 young people marched through the downtown area shouting “No to the war,” although they did not carry any signs or flags.

Elsewhere in Europe, hundreds of people took to the streets in Rome – including local Ukrainian and Georgian citizens living in Italy, along with many Italians – to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine, gathering in the downtown Piazza della Repubblica after thousands turned out on Saturday to call for an end to the violence in the eastern European country.

Among the demonstrators on Saturday were politicians, union members, students, professors and members of other social and economic groups, and on Sunday the protesters sang the Ukrainian national anthem, waved the blue and yellow flags of that country and carried signs calling for “Humanity and Peace” and bearing images of Adolf Hitler with Putin’s name written underneath.

Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated for peace in many Italian cities, including some 10,000 in Turin.

In Spain’s capital, hundreds of people demonstrated before the Russian Embassy as well as in other Spanish cities against the war and called for Russia to cease military action in – and withdraw from – Ukraine.

The demonstrators at the Russian Embassy – convened by the Movement for Peace, an NGO – chanted slogans such as “Putin out,” “Not to war” and “No to the invasion.”

About 500 people, most of them Ukrainians and Belarusians, according to Urban Guard sources, protested in Barcelona against the war in Ukraine and the pro-Russian policies of the Belarusian government of Alexander Lukashenko.

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