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Symbolic Casemates protest offers alternative message of peace on Russia’s ‘Victory Day’

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

A group of Ukrainian and Russian residents held a symbolic protest in Casemates on Tuesday, denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the same day that Moscow commemorates the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The group expressed their opposition to the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin and their hopes that Russia would "come to its senses" and rid itself of Mr Putin's leadership.

The small protest came as Mr Putin used the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow to accuse the West of unleashing “a real war” against Russia, claims dismissed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Prime Minister said that the Russian leader was the only person to blame for the war, a message that was echoed in Casemates.

“We are here celebrating Victory Day in our own way, when Putin is still engaged in his criminal war against Ukraine,” said Sergei Rhodiola, one of the protestors Ukrainian.

“We don't think that Russia equals Putin and that's one of our statements today.”

“Putin has managed to charm a lot of world leaders and probably a lot of the Russian population as well, into believing him and thinking that he's the one to lead Russia into the future.”
“But we don't think that this is the way forward.”

“We hope that Russia will come to its senses in a way and get rid of the regime.”

Among the small group was Izyum, a one-year-old rescue dog who has travelled to the Rock from Ukraine.

He is called after a city that was heavily attacked by Russia in the early days of the war and where a mass burial ground with 440 graves were found in Autumn last year.

He is one of several rescue dogs that have found homes in Gibraltar since the Russian invasion started.

Mr Putin’s remarks in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday saw the Russian leader claim that “civilisation is once again at a decisive turning point”.

Speaking at the capital’s annual commemorations celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, he said: “A real war has been unleashed against our Motherland.”

In his speech, Mr Putin insisted that the West’s “untamed ambitions, arrogance and impunity” are to blame for the conflict.

He welcomed soldiers fighting in Ukraine who were present at the parade, and concluded his speech: “To Russia! To our brave armed forces! To victory!”

Earlier, Russia unleashed a barrage of cruise missiles on Ukraine, hours before the start of the Moscow parade, which this year took place amid tight security measures.

The Kremlin’s forces launched 25 missiles overnight in a wave of attacks across Ukraine, the Ukrainian air force said, adding that air defences had successfully destroyed 23 of them.

Speaking to broadcasters in Southampton, Mr Sunak said: “There is only one person who is responsible for the illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and that is President Putin. The crimes that are being committed are appalling.”

“The suffering that is being inflicted on the Ukrainian people is appalling.”

“That is why it is right that we remain steadfast in supporting the people of Ukraine to stand up to that aggression. That’s what I and the United Kingdom will continue to do.”

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