Up to 400 Ukrainians and their supporters marched today in traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts from 10 Downing St to Holland Park during the traditional spring Vyshyvanka Mega March.
On the 17th and 18th of May, the all-Ukrainian event took place in Ukrainian cities as well as in the places with large Ukrainian diasporas all over the world, including Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Atlanta, Toronto, New York and London. This was the second time Ukrainian Londoners took part in the traditional march. Last year, though, there were reportedly about a hundred participants.
Although the event is expected to be a cultural festival celebrating Ukrainian traditions, this year it was impossible to keep it apolitical, especially considering the persistence of London Euromaidan activists in the last few months. The event was called ‘March for Peace’ on Facebook, and its advert read: ‘Don’t stay indifferent, by coming to the Peace March you take a stance against aggression and separatism, as well as express support to our compatriots whose lives are in danger’.
Ukrainian flags were numerous as always. The organisers distributed leaflets with the lyrics of a few Ukrainian patriotic songs, including the national anthem, ‘Chervona Kalyna’ (song of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, adopted as an anthem of UPA), and ‘Lenta za lentoyu’, one of the most popular Euromaidan songs that dates back to UPA as well. There were a few anti-Putin posters. Besides, some of the speeches and posters were devoted to the 70th anniversary of Soviet-era deportations of Crimean Tatars which is commemorated on the 18th of May.
The handouts also included a leaflet titled ‘Approaches to the new Ukrainian state politics by the presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko, regarding overseas Ukrainians and labour migrants’. The main idea of the paper was summarised as ‘Towards each other’. It acknowledged the contribution of the Ukrainian diaspora to the Revolution of Dignity and stressed the importance of the ‘global Ukrainian-ness’ as an instrument of political, economical and cultural influence, a factor of European integration and an its potential impact on state-building processes in Ukraine. The paper suggested that collaboration with Ukrainian diaspora all over the world would be one of the strategic directions of the new Ukrainian politics, and underlined that the diaspora is a resource of a critical importance and an international lobby. It underlined the potential migrant policy of the new government: that is, developing a program of repatriation of those Ukrainians who decide to return, thus making use of their internationally gained knowledge and experience; and also developing normative measures providing support of human rights, social support, electoral participation and pension provision for those who stay abroad, as well as working on sustaining and shaping the national identity of compatriots abroad. The Presidential elections are scheduled to be held on 25 May, and the Ukrainian community in London is actively preparing to vote.
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