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Cambridge rallies to mark second year of Ukrainian invasion with testimony to courage





Cambridge4Ukraine organised a rally on King’s Parade to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of their homeland which brought hundreds of people to the city centre on Saturday evening.

Organised by Cambridge4Ukraine, the occasion celebrated, mourned and showed solidarity with the people of Ukraine who have resisted an unprovoked aggression by a numerically far superior neighbour for two years.

Part-vigil, part-remembrance, and pro-victory on King's Parade, Cambridge, February 24, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Part-vigil, part-remembrance, and pro-victory on King's Parade, Cambridge, February 24, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

Ukraine has also defended the possibility of democracy, said one of several speakers to enthusiastic and attentive supporters.

Cambridge for Europe chair Paul Browne said: “Two years ago today we watched in shock and horror as Russian helicopters filled the skies of Ukraine and Russian tanks rolled across the border, and missiles and bombs rained down on Ukrainian towns and cities.

“But as well as shock and horror I remember terrible anger, anger not only towards Putin and the Russian forces that invaded Ukraine, but also towards our own political leaders.

Rally for Ukraine outside Senate House, Cambridge, 24 February, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Rally for Ukraine outside Senate House, Cambridge, 24 February, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“For more than a decade they had responded to Russia’s aggression – the invasion of Chechnya, the invasion of Georgia, the bombing of Syria, and the invasion of Crimea and Donbas - with weak sanctions and empty warnings, while continuing to do dirty deals for Russian gas, oil and money.

“Our political leaders forgot that dictators cannot be appeased, they won’t just be reasonable, their aggression can only be stopped by strength. The people of Ukraine showed us what that strength looks like.”

He added: “2024 is a make or break year not just for Ukraine but for democracy around the world. So far the response has been slow, too hesitant - and Russia has always escalated anyway. As NATO allies, what does Europe do? First and foremost, Europe must rearm - if we don’t do it now we’ll have to do it later.”

Cambridge 4 Ukraine mark 2nd anniversary of the full-scale invasion by Russia on King's Parade, Cambridge. Picture: Mike Scialom
Cambridge 4 Ukraine mark 2nd anniversary of the full-scale invasion by Russia on King's Parade, Cambridge. Picture: Mike Scialom

There followed testimony, poetry, eulogies and commemoration.

“Thousands have been killed and millions have suffered,” a Ukrainian woman said at the microphone. “Russian has shown they don’t see Ukrainians as human and this dehumanisation is part of their invasion, so it’s important that we come together to assert our humanity.

“So many people are coming together, in Cambridge and across the world, to remember and to resist. Our candles represent the flame of humanity, of hope for a better world, of democracy, freedom and peace, Slava Ukraini!”

Another woman said Russia’s goal is “to erase our cultural history”.

She added: “Russia has systematically abducted thousands of Ukrainian children, to indoctrinate them into Russian culture.”

A Ukrainian woman read a poem and said: “731 days have passed since Russia launched this full-scale invasion, and since Russia started this war against Ukraine, ten years have gone by. And each day is another 24 hours of our freedom.”

“Please recognise your privilege of surviving, your privilege of not living with a war in your life, not just today, not tomorrow, but until our victory!” said another.

The next: “I am Ukrainian. Two years ago this war started. It’s changed everything, it is like it happened yesterday but it is two years. Ukraine is a wonderful country, it’s a lovely country, it’s beautiful and we are strong and we are alive and we’ve shown the world we are Ukrainian.

Anna Starushkevych sings on King's Parade to close the Cambridge tribute to and affirmation of the Ukrainian response to Russia's full-scale invasion.
Anna Starushkevych sings on King's Parade to close the Cambridge tribute to and affirmation of the Ukrainian response to Russia's full-scale invasion.

“We just want Russia to leave my people, to leave my land. I want to love in my country and I want freedom.”

The commemoration concluded with Ukrainian singer Anna Starushkevych singing ‘Oi, u luzi chervona kalyna’ (‘Oh the red viburnum in a meadow’), and the Ukraine national anthem.

The second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been marked with church services, wreath-laying and demonstrations across the UK and Ireland.

Cambridge 4 Ukraine mark 2nd anniversary of the full-scale invasion by Russia on King's Parade, Cambridge. Picture: Mike Scialom
Cambridge 4 Ukraine mark 2nd anniversary of the full-scale invasion by Russia on King's Parade, Cambridge. Picture: Mike Scialom

In Edinburgh, Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf attended a wreath-laying service at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

In Dublin, thousands gathered outside the GPO building in O’Connell Street for a demonstration marking two years of conflict.

In London, people took part in a march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square before a vigil was held.



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