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"A year of pain, a year of hope, a year of tears": large-scale actions took place around the world on the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine


On February 24, 2023, thousands of people in cities around the world gathered to support the Ukrainian people and speak out against Russia's war in Ukraine, which was unleashed by Putin's regime.

According to the organizers of the protests, more than 88 protests took place on Friday and Saturday, 24-25 February, in 82 cities around the world.

Austria, Vienna

On the eve of the protests, the Ark community, together with 50 anti-war organisations around the world, issued a statement condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"We are waging this fight - in word and deed. We will continue to disseminate truthful information about Russian war crimes, assist Ukrainians affected by the war, and support those of us who, despite political repression, are resisting the aggressor inside Russia," the statement said.

Bulgaria, Sofia

For a year now, the Russian military has been targeting tens of thousands of civilian targets, including medical facilities and energy infrastructure, in Ukraine. According to official UN statistics alone, more than 7,100 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022, including 438 children. At least 11,662 civilians have also been wounded. UN experts believe that the real casualties could be much higher.

Australia, Sydney

Europe has already taken in more than 8 million Ukrainian refugees, and more than half of all Ukrainian children have been forced to leave their homes. UN experts estimate that some 17.6 million people - almost 40 per cent of Ukraine's population - are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection at the moment.

Shocking photo and video footage of the murdered residents of Bucha, Irpen, Borodyanka and other settlements, which have long been under Russian occupation, have horrified the world.

To this day, Ukrainian and international experts continue to find and identify the bodies of civilians in mass graves, basements and wells.

Experts from Amnesty International have recognised that the March 2022 attack on the Mariupol Drama Theatre, which killed many civilians, was a war crime by the Kremlin. At the time of the targeted attack, the word "CHILDREN" was written in large letters on the pavement in front of the theatre.

Photo: TASS

On 23 February 2023, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Russia to end hostilities and withdraw from Ukraine. A total of 141 UN members voted in favour of the resolution, 7 opposed it, and 32 abstained. Russia, Belarus, the DPRK, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria opposed it.

"Poles help Ukrainians and are against Putin"

Rallies in support of Ukraine were held in several Polish cities at once. Here the Russian anti-war movement is still small, representatives of a group of Russian activists in Poland tell Media Loft. The country has a positive attitude to anti-war rallies, and Poles themselves often participate in such protests.

Poland, Krakow

"Relations with Ukrainians are very different: in Warsaw there is a cold hostility, in Wroclaw they are better understood. But this is more about interaction with Ukrainian activists, and there are also ordinary Ukrainians who come and hug us when they see us at rallies," say members of the movement.

It is still difficult to assess how strong anti-war voices are among Russians in Poland, the activists say.

"But they are definitely there, and we are taking part in the global action. Poland is an ally of Ukraine, Poles help Ukrainians and are against the war and Putin."

"Our voices in Serbia are stronger than anywhere else"

Numerous events in support of Ukraine were also held in Serbia, which welcomed hundreds of thousands of Russians. Now the community of anti-war Russians is gaining momentum in the Balkan country. More and more people gather at events organised by the Russian Democratic Society (RDO) in Serbia.

Serbia, Belgrade
Photo: shablinskii

"In general we can say that our voices in Serbia are maybe stronger than elsewhere. This is due to the fact that here we have a really strong motivation to take to the streets and show that we, Russians (and not only Russians), who oppose the war, exist - and there are many of us," says Vladimir Volohhonski, an RDO activist in Belgrade and a municipal deputy from St. Petersburg.

Pro-Russian sentiment is very strong in Serbia, the majority of the population supports Russia in this war, believing that "the West" is to blame for everything, says the activist.

"So here, apart from our internal motives (to get together, talk and be silent about our common misfortune), there is also an external goal - to bring the truth about this war to the people of Serbia."

Serbia, Belgrade
Photo: shablinskii

"Spain is not an easy country", but there is support from the government

Alexei Nesterenko, president of the Association of Free Russians in Spain, told Media Loft that the Spanish government and local authorities support them in the protests.

"In this respect, Spain is not an easy country. There are a lot of anti-NATO and anti-globalisation people here who don't like the US. So some part of society supports Putin," says Alexei.

"Here we can openly express our opinions"

A large Russian-speaking anti-war community has gathered in the Netherlands, actively opposing the war, supporting refugees and displaced people from Ukraine, as well as those living in Ukraine itself and in need of humanitarian aid, Lana, coordinator of the FreeRussiaNL community, told Media Loft.

Lana says that such actions give the Russians who have left Russia an opportunity to find their voice and say out loud that they are against the war.

Netherlands, The Hague

"This action is first of all very important for Russians who are against the war and against Putin's regime, because here we have such a privilege, such an opportunity to go out and speak freely, to speak our opinion. And in Russia it's not safe at all."

For Ukrainians, protests are also very important, says Lana.

"I often hear from them that they are grateful to us because we show that not all Russians are like Putin's Russia, that not all are 'orcs' - and that we give them hope. In a way we show the Netherlands and the whole world that there are adequate Russians.”

By: Katya Kobenok

“I feel ashamed, hurt and scared”. Russian-speaking emigrants in Europe

“I feel ashamed, hurt and scared”. Russian-speaking emigrants in Europe


"I won't leave my husband. If we die, we'll die together." The road from Chernihiv.