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Italy protests Ukraine
Francesco at the daily rallies of the Ukrainian community in Milan. Photo: Lorenzo Ceva Valla

Why I protest for Ukraine in Milan every single day

“I feel it’s my responsibility as an Italian and European citizen to do anything in my power to support Ukraine and help them achieve the true peace they deserve.”
Why I protest for Ukraine in Milan every single day

Hi, I am Francesco Decio; I am 24 years old. I have recently graduated in economics and business administration, and now I work as an analyst in a consulting company.
I was born and raised in Milan, and I didn’t have any ties with Ukrainians before 24 February 2023, when I first joined them in their rally.

The Ukrainian protesters started protesting when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. They didn’t know how long they would stay there, but they kept coming back day after day, and they never stopped.

After I attended the big rally on the first anniversary of the invasion, I was dazzled by the sheer motivation and strength of these people. I came back a few days later just to thank them for what they were doing.

The first people I talked to were very nice, thanked me for my support and told me next time I could come to stay with them behind the flag.

So I started coming back, more and more often. I usually am quite shy, but there I felt immediately at ease. There was a sense of familiarity.

The people I met there are beautiful and are one of the reasons I go every day.

Initially, I thought my contribution was purely moral support and only useful to the refugees, so they would feel welcome and not left alone.

That was the main reason I first started going: Russian propaganda has spread all over the place here in Italy. Many of my friends and family didn’t know what was really going on there, and what hurt me the most was that they never understood who Ukrainians were and still are fighting.

The Ukrainian point of view was and is rarely considered, let alone understood.

So the Ukrainian community of Milan was a tangible and first-hand source where people who had doubts could go to have their questions answered.

Apart from moral support, I aimed to spread the Ukrainians’ voice and point of view to my fellow countrymen and emulate them in their daily resistance.

But now I have more reasons. At first, I thought that my contribution was negligible. Now, I feel that my help, even though still negligible, is necessary.

It’s necessary because I feel it’s my responsibility as an Italian and European citizen to do anything in my power to support Ukraine and help them achieve the true peace they deserve.

Most of us also simply don’t want to be bystanders and do nothing. We don’t want to be the ones who did nothing to help Ukraine win or to prevent it from falling.

I would like to thank all the Ukrainians who are fighting and resisting in their home country for protecting all of us from Russia, including us Italians.

I know that the war is not only fought on the frontline. What Russia is most desperately trying to do is to undermine our aid to Ukraine: they pit us against one another, make us focus on our domestic problems and lose sight of their threat. They make us believe that Ukraine will lose and that our support is useless, so that we may cut our aid, leave them defenseless and let Russians do what they did in Mariupol, Irpin, Bucha, Izium, and what they did in Georgia, Syria, and Chechnya before.

I owe this awareness also to another association. Liberi Oltre covered the war in the first weeks 24/7, explaining in great detail the real reasons for the invasion, the historical background of Ukraine and Russia, debunking Russian lies, and explaining the threat that Russia poses to all of Europe, as well as how hybrid warfare is waged, especially through disinformation campaigns.

They made me realize the war is not just against Ukraine, and that it is our responsibility, as citizens, to take an active position in support of Ukraine.

I also know that this war will unfortunately last for a long time and that to win it, we must keep supporting them in tangible ways every single day. Or else our support may end.

Ukraine has been able to resist for two years because every day, hundreds of thousands choose to fight, and millions of civilians choose to keep on resisting. They are united by the same goal and fight for the same reasons.

In the same way, we Italians and the Ukrainian diaspora must keep doing whatever is in our power to help them. Only once we have enough people will we succeed.

I believe that Europe and the US still don’t give enough aid to Ukraine because we, the citizens, are not asking for it. That’s why it’s our responsibility to pressure our governments to do more and to explain to people who still don’t get it why this is so important, and to ask them to do the same.

I believe it’s fundamental to be united as Ukrainians are, even more so in times of heavy struggle and fatigue, when it seems that what we are doing is useless because Russia wants us to be weak and divided.

There’s a lyric in a Ukrainian song, Bude Vesna, that we always play during our manifestation that says: “Our faith unites hearts, Ukraine unites hearts.”

This is the bond that I feel links all of us who keep coming every day, every time we can.
And I think it keeps all Ukrainians together and pushes them daily in their struggle.

We must not lose this faith.

I think many of us feel this way: knowing what’s at stake, we want to do anything that is in our power to help Ukraine and Ukrainians. As we often say at the end of our speeches, we don’t want to be indifferent.

One last thing: I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all the Ukrainians who are fighting and resisting in their home country not only for protecting all of us from Russia, including us Italians, but also for being the greatest source of inspiration and motivation I ever had.

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