On 20 July 2014, up to 150 London-based Ukrainian activists and their supporters protested in front of the Russian embassy, following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with mounting evidence demonstrating Russian-backed separatists’ responsibility for downing the plane.
The Ukrainian protesters have already held a protest on 17 July, when the plane crashed after being reportedly hit by a surface-to-air missile launched from area in the eastern part of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, killing 298 people. On Thursday, a few dozen Ukrainian activists laid flowers at the Dutch and Malaysian embassies before marching to the Russian embassy and demonstrating there for about an hour.
On Sunday, a bigger group gathered in front of the embassy, waving flags and holding banners. The mostly Ukrainian crowd also included a few supporters from Britain. Representatives of a socialist newspaper ‘The Militant’ who have frequented Ukraine-related events in London in the last months also joined the protest. (The newspaper compares favourably to many of the British left, whose position regarding the events in Ukraine draws upon ill-informed, rigid and ignorant authoritarianism resulting in a Soviet propaganda-style rhetoric that deprives the Ukrainian civic nation of its own agency). Just a few participants were from Russia and some other post-Soviet countries.
One of the British supporters expressed his disappointment with a weak reaction to the MH17 catastrophe of the British public and politicians and called for boycott of Russian business. AUGB representative Iryna Terlecky underlined the threat that Russian-backed terrorism brings not only to Ukraine, but to the whole of Europe, as well as the responsibility of the Western politicians for allowing the plane crash to happen due to their negligence.
The protesters chanted: ‘Putin is a criminal!’, ‘Putin is a terrorist!’, ‘Putin is a fascist!’, ‘Plane crash on Putin’s hands’, ‘Russia, wake up, you are brainwashed’, ‘Stop supporting terrorism!’, ‘Stop rashism!’ ‘Putin to tribunal!’. The already classic chant ‘Putin khuilo!’ (‘Putin is a dickhead’) was widely used. The traditional ‘Slava natsii! Smert’ voroham!’ (Glory to the nation! Death to the enemies!’) was changed into ‘Slava natsii! Smert’ moskalyam!’ (Ukrainian ethnic slur referring to Russians). However, protesters also chanted ‘We love Russians, we hate moskali!’ in Russian language, pointing at the highly politicised nature of the conflict that also managed to seep into the domain of personal relations.
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