A march for peace in Ukraine drew tens of thousands to downtown Moscow Sunday in a show of protest against Russia’s involvement in the conflict.
The demonstration drew a mixed crowd of old and young, families and organized factions, who walked the route chanting songs and slogans — the most common being a simple, “No to war.”
“This march is to show the people that there’s quite a number of people who are against the war and don’t think that most Ukrainians are fascists,” said Mikhail Garder, 28. “The government knows that. The people don’t.”
Participants walked on either side of a divided boulevard under heavy police supervision, many carrying or dressed in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, while others brought handmade signs calling for an end to the bloodshed, the return of Crimea and the rejection of Russian President Vladimir Putin — sometimes depicted with a Hitler-style mustache. The event attracted a variety of subgroups as well, such as feminist activist groups and representatives of various opposition parties.
But the march — which took place on a sunny, warm afternoon — seemed to draw as many curious observers to walk the route as it did dedicated demonstrators.
People paused to take photographs and applaud those who stood along the route with signs bearing comical slogans — such as one man whose poster read, “Putin, our hemorrhoids,” a play in Russian on “Putin, our hero” — and lengthier demands, such as Yuri Smagurov’s plea to Putin to “stop the armed and political aggression” in Ukraine.
“A war with Ukraine, that’s the most ridiculous, the most idiotic thing that Putin could have come up with,” Smagurov said. “We have put ourselves in such a position that we’re against everybody — against Europe, against ourselves, against the United States, against normal life.”
The march is the second peace rally to be held this year but the first since open hostilities commenced in eastern Ukraine.