Solidarity demos across Europe demand end to Ukraine war

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday in cities from Paris to Zurich in support of Ukraine, demanding an end to Russia's invasion.

Crowds demonstrate against war in Ukraine in Paris
Demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags as they take part in a protest against Russia's military invasion of Ukraine at Place de la Republique in Paris on March 5th, 2022. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

Citizens across Europe and the world have been horrified by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack, which began on February 24th and appeared to be entering a new phase with escalating bombardment.

Around 41,600 people demonstrated in 119 protests in towns and cities across France, according to interior ministry estimates. In Paris itself, some 16,000 turned out.

“Despite the suffering, we are going to win, we are sure of it,” said Nataliya, a Franco-Ukrainian with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped over shoulders, at the Paris protest.

She declined to give her full name because of concerns about the safety of her son in Ukraine. “We are proud of their courage, their determination,” she added.

“We will be here every weekend, in Paris or elsewhere, until Putin leaves, withdraws his tanks,” said Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a member of Stand With Ukraine, one of the organisers of the protest.

One of the largest rallies to demand the withdrawal of Russia’s troops from Ukraine on the invasion’s 10th day was in Zurich, where organisers believed 40,000 people took part, Switzerland’s ATS news agency reported.

Demonstrators in the largest Swiss city called for “peace now”, while others carried signs saying: “Stop War” and “Peace”.

Demonstrators in Rome hold signs protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in Rome on March 5th, 2022. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

‘No to Putin, no to NATO’
In the centre of Rome, unions and organisations rallied in a large “procession of peace”, demonstrating against Putin but also NATO.

“No base, no soldier, Italy out of NATO,” chanted pacifists preceded by a large flag in the colours of the rainbow.

“This is perhaps one of the first real demonstrations for peace,” Italian cartoonist, actor and writer Vauro Senesi told AFP.

“Here no one believes we make peace with arms, that we make it by sending arms to one of the parties (Ukraine).”

More than a thousand people also demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb with banners saying: “Stop the War, Save Europe” and “Glory to Ukraine”.

In the Balkans, the invasion has revived dark memories of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which killed more than 100,000 people during a series of conflicts.

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands also turned out in yellow and blue across Europe including in Russia, Germany, Spain, Finland and the Czech Republic.


Member comments

  1. EU needs a EU army not NATO an old school cold war era alliance, an army that will address the security concerns of the bloc inc neutral countries.

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Italy launches investigation into Russian disinformation claims

An official investigation has begun amid widespread concern about Kremlin-linked Russian commentators appearing on Italian news channels.

Italy launches investigation into Russian disinformation claims

Italy’s parliamentary committee for security, Copasir, opened the probe this week in response to widespread concerns that Italian news outlets are being used to spread Russian propaganda, according to media reports.

The inquiry comes after Italian news channels repeatedly invited Russian journalists and pro-Kremlin Italian commentators to speak on their programmes in recent months.

READ ALSO: Pro-Russia hackers target Italian official websites

The recent appearance of Russia’s foreign minister Sergej Lavrov on the political talk show Zona Bianca sparked a particular outcry in Italy, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Lavrov used the platform to repeat claims that Ukraine’s President Zelensky was a Nazi, despite his being Jewish – also falsely claiming that even Hitler was part Jewish.

He also denied that Russian forces were behind the atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Italy’s president Mario Draghi called the comments “bizarre and obscene”, reported Corriere della Sera.

Part of the committee’s mission is to determine whether it is legitimate to invite organs of the Russian state to appear on Italian current affairs shows.

The repeat appearance on Italian talk shows of Nadana Fridrikhson, a journalist from the Russian state-owned TV network Zvezda which is run by Russia’s Ministry of Defence, has also caused consternation among audiences in Italy.

“Russian disinformation works through espionage, hiring by Russian companies, campaigns and fake news,” Copasir’s president Adolfo Urso reportedly said as he announced the investigation.

“We must therefore ensure that the information is free from this systematic work of foreign interference.”

READ ALSO: Italy expels 30 Russian diplomats over security concerns

Urso pointed to a report by a European task force which had identified more than 13,000 instances of Russian disinformation in the EU since 2014 as evidence of the scale of the problem.

The committee has called on the president of the media watchdog Agcom, the director of Italy’s security agency Aisi, and the CEO of the national broadcaster Rai to provide evidence in a series of hearings.

Following testimony delivered by Rai CEO Carlo Fuortes on Thursday, Urso said that the session “proved fruitful, providing useful insights in order to protect freedom, editorial and informational autonomy and pluralism against any form of conditioning and to increase the resilience of the entire country-wide system,” according to news agency Ansa.