Hundreds gather to show support for Ukraine at Nottingham demonstration

Three Labour MPs attended

Hundreds gathered near Old Market Square yesterday at 12pm, Sunday 27 February, to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Demonstrators convened at the Brian Clough Statue at Nottingham Speakers’ Corner. Attendees included individuals from across Europe and local Labour MPs Alex Norris, Lilian Greenwood and Nadia Whittome.

The crowd sung the Ukrainian national anthem and speakers addressed the crowd.

A 68-year-old, half-Ukrainian protestor, speaking to The Tab Nottingham, who wished to remain anonymous, called for stronger international support.

“I understand why different places aren’t getting involved military-wise but how can we just stand back and see them (Ukrainian residents) getting slaughtered? If I was younger and fitter I’d love to have gone and helped but I can’t do that now. This protest is the only way I can help, really,” he told.

He also said it doesn’t matter that Nottingham is geographically far from Ukraine and that its influence is limited. “Every little helps,” he said. “It all adds up together. People see it around the world and messages can get through.”

In a speech, Whittome, MP for Nottingham East, expressed her solidarity with Ukraine and called upon the Conservative government to waive all visa restrictions on Ukrainian refugees as well as crack down on “dirty Russian money.”

“On behalf of the whole of the Labour Party, we stand with you in complete solidarity. No matter who the person is, whether it’s a Conservative Party donor or not, dirty Russian money is not welcome in this country and our government must crack down on it,” she said.

A Polish speaker also took to the stand at Nottingham Speakers’ Corner. She praised Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has stayed behind to fight for his country, and Ukraine at large.

“I can’t say I can feel your pain because your pain is very unique and very yours. It would be arrogant of me. But I can say that we are walking by you. Poland is standing in solidarity with Ukraine,” she said.

“You fight for the freedom of Poland, of the European Union, everyone. I’m lacking the words to express my admiration for the Ukrainian army and your president who has been the leader everyone can learn from.”

A Ukrainian flag was taped to the arm of the Brian Clough Statue

While some speakers echoed optimistic words, others uttered pleas.

A Ukrainian woman, who had travelled from Bristol to attend the demonstration, told the crowd that her father and brother were fighting in Ukraine. She called upon the crowd to sign petitions and talk about Ukraine. “Help us and we will do the rest,” she said.

Another Ukrainian speaker revealed, too, that her nephew is fighting on the frontline. By the end of her speech, she was tearful.

Meanwhile, multiple Russian individuals also stood to express disgust with Vladimir Putin and his decision to invade.

“I have friends in Moscow and St. Petersburg who did not want this,” said one young, Russian woman. Cheers of support from the crowd encouraged her to continue with her speech as she broke out in tears.

Soon after, a young Russian man and a Ukrainian-Russian woman took to the plinth and both called Vladimir Putin a “rat”.

A placard on which Putin is likened to Adolf Hitler

At the end of the speeches, protestors sang the Ukrainian national anthem.

A second demonstration is being planned to take place at Old Market Square on Saturday 6 March, according to a speaker from Nottingham Trades Union Council. However, this may happen sooner, depending on how events in Ukraine unfold.

This development comes amid a global movement of protests that have been staged since Russia’s invasion last Thursday, when, in the early hours of the day, Ukrainian citizens awoke to a wide-scale attack engineered by Russian president Vladimir Putin. On Friday, Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi saw around 30,000 protestors campaigning for the removal of Russian forces from Ukraine. Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn saw a similar number of demonstrators on its streets. Yesterday in Berlin, German police say around 100,000 anti-war protestors attended a rally. Its organisers say the number was closer to half a million.