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Thousands of Russians protest in Prague against the war in Ukraine

The Russian community in Prague protests in Prague against the war in Ukraine
Members of Prague’s Russian community take part in an anti-war demonstration following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine March 26, 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic. REUTERS/David W Cerny

March 26, 2022

By Jason Hovet

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Thousands of Russians marched through Prague on Saturday, waving the white-blue-white flag that has become a symbol of protests against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Demonstrators carried signs that read “Killer” above a picture of President Vladimir Putin and chanted “No to war” and walked from Prague’s Peace Square through the center of the Czech capital. The police estimated the number of demonstrators at around 3,000.

“We are against Putin,” said Alexander Sibrimov, a 19-year-old student who attended the protests with his father.

“We don’t agree with his policies. This is a way to show the world that what is happening in Ukraine is not right.”

Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor and denies attacking civilians. Ukraine and its Western allies called this a baseless pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

With 45,000 Russians, the Czech Republic is the fourth largest expatriate community in the formerly communist-ruled country.

Almost 200,000 Ukrainians lived in the Czech Republic – making it the largest foreign community – before Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The Czech government estimates that 300,000 Ukrainians have fled to the country.

“This is an act to show the Czech Republic and the Czech people that the Russians are against Putin,” protest organizer Anton Litvin said.

The protesters in Prague said they believed they reflected what many people in Russia feel but cannot say.

“Just because we’re Russian doesn’t mean we’re automatically pro-war. We are against the war,” said protester Oleg Golopyatov, a former soldier who has lived in Prague for 15 years. “Ukraine is a normal country. It’s terrible (what’s happening there).”

(Reporting by Jason Hovet, Writing by Michael Kahn, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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Bobby Allyn

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