Hundreds of people have gathered in Manchester city center today in an emotional show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
As President Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces appeared to ignore a ceasefire to continue shelling, people gathered in Piccadilly Gardens on Saturday afternoon. After a series of speeches, the centre-piece of the gathering came when the crowd started to sing songs to show solidarity with the war-ravaged people of Ukraine.
READ MORE: Man stands on tank with Ukraine flag as thousands protest against Russia
Many of those who gathered were draped in the flag of Ukraine and were either born there or have Ukraine heritage.
It was the second such gathering in a week in Piccadilly Gardens designed to send a message of love, support and solidarity to Ukraine.
Today’s protest was organized by the Ukrainian Cultural Center ‘Dnipro’ Manchester group. Crowds began walking from the center in Cheetham Hill at lunchtime.
Among the crowd were Ethi, Sam, Lexi and Isabelle Wilson from Timperley. Ethi is part-Ukrainian and said she has a family at home who are scared and desperately trying to flee.
“We are donating toys to children back home who should be able to play with them, not live in fear,” said Ethi.
Andrew and Anastasia, who moved to the UK from Ukraine five years ago, said: “It’s great to see so many people here but we need more to be done.
“We need action from world leaders. We really hope they can close the sky. This is people’s lives at risk.”
Another couple Wendy and Antony, from Hong Kong, said it was important for people around the world to show up and support Ukraine.
“It’s great to see so many people here from different backgrounds. We all share the same views and we don’t want war to happen,” they said.
Following the singing, a speaker delivered three messages in English, Russian and Ukrainian which said the same thing: “We ask NATO and Boris Johnson to support our skies.”
The UK government has ruled out creating a ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine.
Bohdan Ratycz, one of the organizers and director of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, told the Manchester Evening News it had been an ‘extremely difficult’ week.
“Our hearts go out to our families – whether they will survive or not survive,” he said.
“Ukraine will rise again. It has done it in the past, it will do it in the future.”
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Earlier this month, hundreds of young Ukrainians turned out for a vigil in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square in the wake of the Russian invasion of their homeland.
They were joined by Man City left-back and Ukrainian international Oleksandr Zinchenko.
READ MORE on the Ukrainian conflict: Chilling warning that ‘more death and destruction to come’ in Ukraine after dozens killed and Russian troops ‘raping civilians’
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.