Sheffield’s Ukrainian community march in city centre on six month anniversary of invasion

Organisers wanted to urge people not to forget about the war

A sea of protesters arrived at St Mary’s Church on August 6th as the six month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fast approaches.

Dressed in blue and yellow clothing and carrying home-made signs with messages including “Thank you Britain” and “Stop Putin”, most of those in attendance were displaced women and children, reflecting Ukraine’s martial law that forced men to fight.

As explained by the march’s organiser, Paulo Romaniuviku, St Mary’s Church was chosen as its starting point because it is where many of the 600 Ukranians living in Sheffield meet to have English lessons twice a week.

Paulo was working as a forklift driver in Poland at the start of the war and arrived in Sheffield with his wife and children on May 9th.

He told The Star: “I’m Ukrainian and I’m proud of it. And first of all I want to thank the wonderful English people who have opened their homes and hearts to Ukraine in a difficult situation.

“I also want to thank the UK government for its support which cannot be measured in money. Defenders of Ukraine have to fight, and die, for their freedom, and for the freedom of their children.”

After leaving the church, around 100 protesters marched through the city centre and towards The Moor, where chants and performance art continued.

A number of attendees covered their heads and laid on the floor with red-stained cloth, symbolising the loss of Ukranian lives since the beginning of the war.

22-year-old Maria Potapenko endured a terrifying journey through Crimea, Poland and parts of Russia, including St Petersburg, before arriving in Sheffield just over two weeks ago.

Whilst travelling through Russia, Maria says she was so scared of the possible consequences of the Ukrainian tattoo on her arm that she burnt it off with an iron, and, shockingly, knows many people who have been forced to do the same.

When asked why she wanted to take part in the protest, Maria said: “Because I want to thank British people, and also to gain attention for the fact that the war is still happening. Because we don’t want people to forget.”

Featured image via @JeppsBooks on Twitter. 

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