Protests mark 2 years of Russia’s invasion

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Cyprus on Saturday, to protest against the two years of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. Protests took place in Limassol, Nicosia, Paphos and Larnaca, amassing Ukrainians, and smaller groups of locals who showed solidarity by waving Ukrainian flags.

“Today is a date that has become one of the darkest days in the calendar for every Ukrainian,” Ksenia Mukhortova, head of the Ukrainian-Cypriot Friendship Association said in an emotionally charged speech.

In Limassol, around 400 Ukrainians gathered at Molos’ seafront, adorning the emblematic blue and yellow Ukrainian flag. Russian nationals also carried out protests, slamming President Vladimir Putin’s war, and expressing their opposition to the military onslaught against Ukraine.

Marking the two-year anniversary since Russia’s invasion, Cyprus’ foreign ministry said: “We stand for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

It expressed its solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine.

Ukrainians are ‘running out’

“Men are not allowed to leave Ukraine. There are many separated families, with men at war. It is heartbreaking,” Mukhortova shared.

This is the plight that most Ukrainian refugees are living through, constantly fearful for their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons who are forced to fight in the war, she added.

Ukraine, Russia, Limassol protest

In Limassol, around 400 Ukrainians gathered at Molos’ seafront, adorning the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag

“For two years, Ukraine has been suffering from a full-scale war with daily bombings of the entire country’s territory by rockets, bombs, and kamikaze drones.

“The horrors did not begin two years ago, but eight years before that. It was just convenient for the world not to notice the invasion, not to call it a war.”

She stressed that helping Ukraine now is neither a charity, a mercy, or a favor.

“Ukrainians are dying right now so that Europe can continue living its usual life, with the luxury of sipping coffee and pondering that perhaps the world is not as straightforward as it seems. Time is running out; Ukrainians are running out.

“If we don’t help to the maximum of our capabilities now, tomorrow it will be your sons defending your lands and families.”

Those attending the protest chanted “thousands of Ukrainians die” and “Russia should pay” along with “your country can be next.”

Russians join the fight

Scores of Russian nationals also held separate protests, including outside the Russian embassy in Nicosia and the consular office in Limassol.

Alexy, 32, who has lived in Cyprus for two years shared it was “nerve-wracking” to be in front of the embassy as the consequences were not a matter of if, but when.

He shared it was not uncommon for Russians to experience difficulty in obtaining necessary documents or consular services, if they went against official lines.

Nonetheless, Xenia, another Russian national who attended the Nicosia protest said “we were silent for too long and it’s time to speak up.

“Putin won’t stop… People who speak up are detained, killed.”

She sought to send a message to the people in Ukraine saying “we’re very sorry for what’s happening” and also telling the people in Russia that “we are also sorry. We didn’t forget about them.”

Attendees at the protest outside the embassy underlined that Putin would not stop but the protests across the island had to happen.

“We do not negotiate with terrorists.”