Ukrainian and Belarusian football fans unite ‘for Your Freedom and Ours’

Belarusian football fans holding a giant banner that says: "Stay Strong, Brothers!" during the match of Ukraine and Belarus national teams on September 5, 2015, in Lviv, Ukraine (Image: social media)

Belarusian football fans holding a giant banner that says: "Stay Strong, Brothers!" during the match of Ukraine and Belarus national teams on September 5, 2015, in Lviv, Ukraine (Image: social media) 

2015/09/06 • Analysis & Opinion, Belarus, Politics, Russia

Few events are more likely to divide people along national or ethnic lines than international football matches, and that makes what happened in Lviv yesterday utterly remarkable and especially important: In a display of unity against a common Russian threat, Ukrainian and Belarusian fans marched under a banner “for your freedom and ours.”

Prior to the match, fans of both national teams marched from the center of the western Ukrainian city to the arena where the competition took place. They sang anti-Putin songs and carried banners declaring “a brotherhood of conscience” as well as their commitment of mutual support.

Belarusian and Ukrainian football fans marching with a banner saying "For Your and Our Freedom!" before the match of Ukraine and Belarus national teams on September 5, 2015, in Lviv, Ukraine (Image: social media)

Belarusian and Ukrainian football fans marching with a banner saying “For Your and Our Freedom!” before the match of Ukraine and Belarus national teams on September 5, 2015, in Lviv, Ukraine (Image: social media)

Earlier in the morning, fans from the two countries gave blood for wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Grani.ru reported that “the Belarusian fans called their action, “’We are united with you by common blood’” and said that they wanted to demonstrate their support for Ukraine’s struggle to maintain its independence and territorial integrity.

The march and the game itself were orderly and no arrests were reported. Ukraine won by a score of three to one, and its victory was greeted by President Petro Poroshenko who thanked the fans of both teams “for the unbelievably warm and friendly atmosphere at the stadium. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Belarus!”

The last time the two teams met, in the Belarusian city of Borisov in October 2014, the fans behaved in much the same way, expressing mutual support and opposition to Russian aggression; but the Belarusian authorities behaved very differently. They arrested approximately 100 Ukrainian fans and 30 Belarusian ones, the latter because they wore Ukrainian symbols and displayed the white-red-white Belarusian flag Alyaksandr Lukashenka has dispensed with.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Thomas Ferree

    Here’s the headline in the RuSSian newspapers regarding the pre-game march, football match and the blood donations: Every person attending the pre-game march, football game and making blood donations were required to produce their passport. Not a single Belorussian passport was produced, only Ukrainian passports! Again, the west lies about brotherhood and blood relations! – – – Hey, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. I just wanted to beat the RuSSian newspapers to the most likely reporting of the events. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Belarus! Let freedom and brotherhood reign! P.S. Hi Vlad, sorry for stealing your thunder – kisses and BIG bear hugs!

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Interesting that the Belarusian fans displayed the white-red-white flag of Belarus rather than Lukashenko’s ex-Soviet flag. What to make of this, I wonder? Probably not much……… not yet.