World takes to the streets to support Ukraine in anti-war marches

Huge anti-war protests have been seen across Europe and around the world amid a global backlash to Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Hundreds of thousands – and possibly millions – of demonstrators marched against the Russian attack, in cities stretching from Berlin to Baghdad via Quito and Copenhagen.

Eastern Europe was awash with demonstrators, including brave activists inside Russia, who are being arrested in their hundreds every day.

In London, thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square on Sunday after demonstrators gathered outside the Russian embassy in Kensington on Saturday, when a punch was thrown at a man carrying a Russian flag.

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They were joined around the world by demonstrators in Prague, Madrid and Amsterdam, among other cities.

Dressed in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag and bearing posters crying ‘No World War 3’ countless anti-war demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the Russian invasion.

Demonstrators chanted ‘shame’ to Putin, while others waved banners with slogans like ‘Putin murderer’ or ‘stop the monster’.

In the German capital, police estimated turnout as at least 100,000, while Prague drew 70,000 and Amsterdam 15,000.

Organisers of the Berlin protest believe the real numbers was five times the police estimate, with demonstrators massing at the Brandenburg Gate, a stone’s throw away from the Russian embassy.

Hans Georg Kieler, 49, explained: ‘It is important to me for Germany to show that it is standing for democracy in Europe.’

He voiced approval for Germany’s decision to begin delivering armaments to Ukraine, but said he thought ‘we could have helped Ukraine more’.

Meanwhile, in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg, around 400 people gathered in defiance of strict protest laws, holding posters that read ‘No to war’, ‘Russians go home’ and ‘Peace to Ukraine’.

More than 2,000 people were detained in demonstrations across the country on Sunday, following thousands of arrests this week, but they stood firm.

Police in full riot gear were grabbing one protester after another and dragging some into police vans, even though the demonstration was peaceful.

Footage from Moscow showed police throwing several female protesters on the ground before dragging them away.

‘It is a shame that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of us and not millions,’ engineer Vladimir Vilokhonov, 35, said from the St Petersburg rally.

Another demonstrator, 48-year-old Dmitri Maltsev, added: ‘I have two sons and I don’t want to give them to that bloody monster. War is a tragedy for all of us’.

The Kremlin has sought to downplay the protests, insisting that a much broader share of Russians support the assault on Ukraine.

According to the OVD-Info rights group that tracks political arrests, by Sunday evening police had detained at least 1,474 Russians in 45 cities over anti-war demonstrations that day.

Elsewhere, several thousand people gathered in Rome’s city centre, answering a call from Italy’s 235,000-strong Ukrainian community to demonstrate.

In Prague, tens of thousands gathered at the central Wenceslas Square, including Roman Novotny, who had to travel around 300 kilometres (186 miles) to get to the protest from the southeast of the country.

‘We all have to do our best,’ he said.

‘It’s a difficult situation because the madman has nuclear weapons. I think he has cut himself off from the entire world, totally.’

Student Eliska Lipkova, 19, said the strong mobilisation may be ‘because we have a similar and rather recent experience, we were in a similar situation,’ referring to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led armies.

Meanwhile in Lithuania, Belarussian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya led a few hundred of her countrymen in protest against the Minsk regime for allowing Putin’s army to use the country as a launchpad into Ukraine.

Chanting ‘long live Belarus’ and ‘glory to Ukraine’, they said they wanted the world to understand that ordinary Belarusians do not support the attack on Ukraine.

‘Our Ukrainian brothers would not forgive us for our silence’, Ms Tikhanovskaya – who lives in exile in Lithuania – said.

In Denmark, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen joined 10,000 people in front of the Russian embassy in Copenhagen to condemn the invasion.

‘It is all of you and all of Europe who are threatened by Russia’, she told the crowd.

‘We cry with you’, she said, addressing Ukrainians.

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