Multiple rallies were held in Edmonton on Sunday to highlight the devastating impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Some protestors formed a flash mob, lying on the ground near the Walterdale Theatre, imitating photos that show dead civilians in Ukrainian streets. A similar protest was held near the provincial legislature.
Protestors gathered to demand further sanctions on Russia in light of revelations of violence against civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha and other parts of the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden are among several world leaders who have accused Russia of war crimes.
Igor Chernihovsky, who attended the protest at the legislature, said western nations need to do more to isolate Russia from the rest of the world.
“The civilized world must do its best to make Putin’s regime fail,” Chernihosky said. “Fail, first of all, in the war field, and then fail economically, politically.”
Many attendees had personal connections to Ukraine. At the protest near the theatre, Alexandr Weber said he was there because his father is Ukrainian.
“People are dying there. Kids, innocent people,” Weber said.
Protesters dressed in blue and yellow and carried signs and Ukrainian flags.
Slava Francis, another protest attendee, said she’s worked to bring five members of her family to Canada from Ukraine since the war began in February. She’s still worried about others left behind in the country.
Chernihovsky said that Russians were welcome at the demonstration, and that one of the organizers, Svetlana Koshkareva, is from Irkutsk in Siberia.
“There is a lot of honest and good Russian people that feel ashamed for what the government is doing,” Chernihovsky said.
He said there are people in Canada who continue to support the Russian government, which has used disinformation to deflect criticism, even alleging some attacks against civilians were faked or carried out by Ukrainian forces.
In Bucha, in particular, the Russian government said bodies of dead civilians were “staged” after troops withdrew. However, satellite evidence showed the bodies had been lying in the street for weeks before Russian forces left the area.
Another attendee of the protest at the theatre, Natalia Ratushna, said she hoped to combat Russian misinformation about the war, citing high support for the invasion of Ukraine amongst some Russians.
“I understand they are brainwashed but they have access to various information and can make up their own judgment,” Ratushna said.
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