Slovenia-based Russians rally to express support for Ukraine

Ljubljana – Almost a hundred people gathered in Prešeren Square in Ljubljana on Tuesday afternoon to express support for Ukraine at an anti-war rally organised by Russians living in Slovenia who oppose Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“There is an attempt to silence our fellow citizens by their own government with the use of truncheons, fines, imprisonment, censorship. That is why it is on us to be loud. We must not and cannot be silent regardless of consequences,” the organisers said in their invitation to the rally, which was shared on social media, particularly on Telegram.

They feel a sense of duty to help stop the war in Ukraine and support the Ukrainian nation that has been attacked by their own.

One of the organisers, Pavel Fedorovskii, who has been living in Slovenia for seven years, told the press that they wanted to point to “the disgrace that is happening in Ukraine” and highlight that the war was not being waged in their name.

“Ukrainians are dying, once beautiful cities are being demolished, children are being born in basements,” he said, noting that many Russians in their homeland did not support the war, but they were very frightened, especially after the adoption of a new law under which they could face up to 15 years in prison for spreading information that goes against the Russian government’s narrative on the war.

Russians living abroad are scared too, he said, adding that he had received numerous expressions of support, but that many were afraid to take to the streets for fear of retaliation by the Russian police.

“We’re scared too, but we cannot remain silent anymore,” he said.

The rally heard chants, mostly in Russian, and saw placards reading “Not in my name”, “Glory to Ukraine”, “Stop the war”, “Bring Putin to justice” and “Putin is a murderer”. Participants waved Ukrainian flags, helped raise aid for Ukrainians and observed a minute’s silence in memory of all those who have been killed since the start of the war.

They were joined by like-minded Belarusians and Ukrainians who live in Slovenia, and addressed by a young Ukrainian woman who has recently fled her country and found refuge at her aunt’s place in Slovenia.

“I honestly do not see any difference between Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians (…). This war is a tragedy for all, for the entire humankind,” one of the protesters, a Russian who has been living in Slovenia for three years, told the STA.

Asked whether she personally feels a changed attitude towards her because she is from Russia, she said that was not important at the moment as the most important thing was to stop the war.

Prior to today’s rally, there were two demonstrations in Ljubljana recently in support of Ukraine, and additional rallies have been announced.

Ljubljana has joined the Eurocities network’s initiative calling on all members of the Russian and Ukrainian nations to get together as a sign of friendship between the nations and a desire for peace, and is inviting all those who wish to “send a message of peace” to a rally in Prešeren Square this Saturday at noon. The Ljubljana municipality has stressed that war can never resolve problems but only makes them worse.