March 2, 2014. Oleksandra Kondratenko, Anna Mostovych
Yesterday, on March 1, 2014 Russia declared war on Ukraine. The President of Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, asked the Federation Council to authorise the use of force in Ukraine. The affirmative decision was taken unanimously at 5:21:57 (Kyiv time).
This was a totally unexpected decision not for Ukraine only but for the whole world. Declaration of war was severely condemned by single countries like US, Poland, Sweden etc. but also generally on the international level, i.e. in the EU, UN and NATO. But as Ukrainians have seen since end November 2013 it hasn’t gone much further then expressing grave concern and condemning the actions of Russia.
Therefore, Ukrainians who want to free Ukraine from Russian military troops decided to take actions by themselves by organising numerous pickets and protests in various cities of Ukraine, including those in southern part of Ukraine.
Around 10,000 activists gathered neat the monument to Duc de Richelieu and organised a walk through the city up to the Consulate of Russia. People held the national flag of Ukraine and chanted “One, single and unified Ukraine!”, “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!”, “Putin, go away!”, “Odesa is not Russia!”.
Mass media report that from 5,000 to 10,000 activists are participating in a protest against bringing military troops of Russia to Ukraine. They were chanting “Putin, go away!” and other slogans. The chairman of the Mukolaiv Local Council started his speech before the activists with a minute’s silence in order to commemorate the fallen Heroes of Ukraine who were killed on Maidan in Kyiv.
People sang the national anthem, chanted “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!”. They were also holding placards saying “Pray for Ukraine!”, “Ukraine is united and indivisible!”, “West and East together”, “We are against the war”.
Several thousands of people gathered near the Local State Administration to protest against Russian intervention into Ukraine and the seizure of the administration under the Russian flag, and direct interference into the internal affairs of Ukraine. People chanted “Putin, go away!” One of the activists, Roman Pyatugorets, said that Russia drives itself into international isolation, provokes the beginning of the cold war and want to put Ukraine in order, while having a lot of problems in Russia. Also present at the demonstrations were Party of Regions members and people with St George ribbons (Russian military decoration) — apparently activists of the “People’s Militia” — who called for peace but claimed they would never support “Banderites”. Protest organizers asked participants not to succumb to provocations.
Up to 1,000 activists came to the center of the city express their support to the integrity of Ukraine. People came with the national flag of Ukraine and placards saying “Kharkiv is Ukraine”, “No to Little Russia”б reports the news source Interfax-Ukraine. “The main issue today is to unite against the external threat. Ukraine is what unites us,” said Ivan Varchenko, the deputy of the Kharkiv Local Council. The people came to the demonstration despite earlier reports in social media that the meeting would be cancelled due to “possible provocations.”
On March 1, activists placed the Oblast Administration and Council building in Donetsk under heavy guard, reports the “Ostriv” news outlet. Protesters also tried to hold an anti-war protest near the Taras Shevchenko monument by the Oblast Administration, carrying banners with slogans: “Ukraine peace and freedom”, “No to occupation”, “Don’t mess with our lives”.
The event took place peacefully under police control. However, later a group of pro-Russian activists, including members of an association of Army and Navy veterans of the USSR, approached and pushed the protesters away from the monument. There were no clashes.
Around 10,000 people gathered neat the Local State Administration to show their wish to live in an independent Ukraine and to say that they want Donetsk to remain the part of Ukraine. People demanded the local deputies to condemn the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The activists held the national flags and placards saying “Putin, hands off Ukraine”, “No to war”, “Crimea, we are with you. Ukraine is united”, “No to Putin’s aggression”. Protesters chanting “Putin, go away” demanded that Putin withdraw troops from the territory of Ukraine and stop “the politics of falsehood and aggression against the Ukrainian nation.”
Meanwhile, People’s Viche is traditionally taking place on Maidan in Kyiv. Thousands came to listen to the MPs about the results of the sessions of Verkhovna Rada. The activists also chanted “Russia, get up!”, asking Russian citizens to protests again the war between Ukraine and Russia.
Around 100 foreign citizens came to the building of Verkvona Rada to support Ukrainians. They brought their national flags (of USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland, India etc.). There were also two residents of Russia holding a placard “PUTIN = Hitler. Mother of God, send Putin away”.
Mass protests also took place in Cherkasy and Vinnytsya.
People gathered on Manezhnaya Square and also near the building of the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation. People were chanting “No war!”. Although the protest was peaceful, after a while lots of activists were arrested, with people shouting “Shame!” to OMON (Russian Special Purpose Mobile Unit).
The same protest took place in St. Petersburg. The special Anti-Military Committee was created on meeting aimed at preventing the interference of Russia into the internal affairs of Ukraine. The protest ended up in the same way as it did in Moscow. Numerous activists were arrested and the meetings itself was severely dispersed.
It turned out that not only the people of Ukraine are against the war, but also the people of Russia and Belarus. The residents of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Minsk organised their own pickets to show their disagreement with the imperial policy of Putin, the Russian invasion into Ukraine and war between Ukraine and Russia. While most protesters in Russia were arrested, the militia of Belarus took into custody ALL activists, including the representatives of mass media.
Sources: pravda.com.ua; interfax.com.ua