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Candlelit vigil, march and anti-war protest in Cambridge will mark one-year anniversary of invasion of Ukraine

A candlelit vigil, a march of solidarity, a church service and anti-war protest will take place in Cambridge to mark one year of the war in Ukraine.

The events have been organised by Cambridge4Ukraine, a volunteer organisation set up in 2022 soon after the outbreak of the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

An earlier march along King’s Parade. Picture: Keith Heppell
An earlier march along King’s Parade. Picture: Keith Heppell

The group said: “Cambridgeshire communities united in an unprecedented move to aid Ukraine and its citizens in 2022. By standing together, we will make 2023 the last year of the war in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society (CamRuSS) has organised an anti-war protest for Sunday.

Here are the details for the events taking place today and over the weekend:

Candlelit vigil on on King's Parade

  • 7pm, Friday February 25

Organised by Cambridge4Ukraine with Cambridge University Ukrainian Society, the vigil is due to include speeches by mayor Cllr Mark Ashton, Daniel Zeichner MP and religious leaders, including Father Orest Smytsniuk, the founder of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church branch in Cambridge, are due to speak.

A previous vigil held at the University of Cambridge Senate House for all those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture: Cambridge University
A previous vigil held at the University of Cambridge Senate House for all those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture: Cambridge University

Cambridge4Ukraine said: “We will remember all those who died in this war in one year and the eight years before.”

Mr Zeichner said: “A year ago the world was shocked and appalled by the brutal and unlawful invasion of Ukraine by Russia. During that year, we have seen heartbreaking scenes of the horror inflicted upon Ukraine and her people by this war.

“At the same time we have also seen the immense strength and bravery of the Ukrainian people who have refused to be cowed by a tyrant. I am honoured to be lighting a candle to show my support for them in this struggle and my belief that democracy and decency will always triumph over tyranny.

“I also thank Cambridge4Ukraine for the work they have done leading up to this grim anniversary and for the support they have shown the Ukrainian community.”

Andrii Smytsniuk, chairman and co-founder of Cambridge4Ukraine, added: “The past year has been a year of struggles and hardships for all Ukrainians, but also it was a time of heroic bravery and absolute determination showed by those in Ukraine who are standing their ground.

“This year Ukraine became a symbol of freedom and courage. All of this would have been impossible without those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. We are here to commemorate them and pay our respects to their ultimate sacrifice. As Ukrainians, we also understand that the progress which Ukraine made would have been impossible without international support.

“We want to say thank you for great support from the inhabitants of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire as well as those who officially represent them: MP Daniel Zeichner and Cllr Mark Ashton present here today.”

For more details, visit Facebook.

March of Solidarity with Ukraine (March4Ukraine)

  • 2pm, Saturday, February 25

Starting from the Hills Road war memorial, the march will head to King’s Parade. The procession will leave at 2.15pm, with a King's Parade rally due from 2.55pm-3.45pm. The march will end by 4pm.

The rally in King’s Parade will feature speeches in 13 different languages, with English translation, from Cambridge residents of different ethnic backgrounds - Arabic, Crimean Tatar, English, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish, Tamil and Ukrainian.

Andrii Smytsniuk, Cambridge4Ukraine co-founder and a march co-organiser: “The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine had a colossal impact on the development of the entire world. We try to show it by featuring speeches from people of different nationalities.”

Elmaz Asan, a journalist from Crimea: “The war in Ukraine began with the occupation of Crimea in 2014. Since then, the peninsula of Crimea has once again become a ghetto due to Russian aggression. For nine years, Russia has been arresting the best representatives of our peoples for the manifestation of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identity, innocent people are subjected to systematic torture, and arrests.

“At the same time, the Russians continue to remain silent and support the genocide against Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. The silence of millions lets others commit crimes. Silence approves killing and torture. That is why we are not silent today and that is why the West must take a stand against this and stop genocide in Ukraine.”

A previous Ukraine march along King’s Parade. Picture: Keith Heppell
A previous Ukraine march along King’s Parade. Picture: Keith Heppell

Gabriele La Malfa, a PhD student from Italy: “I personally have met many Ukrainians in recent months. I consider them my brothers and I owe them a lot. Europe has been a land of peace after World War II until 24 February 2022, guaranteeing fundamental human rights and the sovereignty of all states. The attack against Ukraine changed the situation and now we are called to fight as much as we can, to guarantee that human rights are respected again and that peace in Ukraine comes only with justice and after Ukraine’s victory.”

For more details, visit Facebook.

Anti-war protest outside Great St Mary’s Church

  • 2-3pm, Sunday, February 26

The protest has been organised by Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society (CamRuSS) – Russian-speaking residents of Cambridge.

Prayer for Ukraine in Great St Mary’s Church

  • 4pm, Sunday, February 26

The church choir of Great St Mary's Church will perform during a special service, along with the MALVA Ukrainian women's choir - featuring many refugees - under the direction of Tetiana Voytsekhovska and the Ukrainian Honoured Artist Tetyana Kislyak.

For more information, visit Facebook.

A previous candlelit vigil in King’s Parade
A previous candlelit vigil in King’s Parade

Cambridge City Council is also joining the community in marking the anniversary of the invasion by raising the Ukrainian flag and lighting up the Guildhall in the market square in the colour of the Ukraine flag over the weekend.

Since the Russian invasion, 240 Cambridge households have opened their homes to people from Ukraine, and more than 500 people from Ukraine have been welcomed into the city through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Across Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, 1,100 Ukrainian refugees have been hosted since the outbreak of hostilities

Cllr Mairéad Healy, executive city councillor for equalities, anti-poverty and wellbeing, said: “I’m sure that people from Ukraine will find the coming days difficult, with the anniversary on Friday being a particularly sensitive time. We want you to know that Cambridge stands in solidarity with you.

“I want to thank everyone who has played a part in welcoming people from Ukraine to Cambridge in the past year – whether as hosts through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, by supporting community group projects to help people settle in locally, or simply by being warm and welcoming. This weekend gives another opportunity for us to show our support for the people of Ukraine, by attending any of the events taking place in the city.

“Anyone who would still like to find out about becoming a host – it’s not too late. Visit cambridge.gov.uk/spareroom to find out more.”

Cambridge4Ukraine says it is calling for:

  • International solidarity and the UK government’s efforts to continue military and economic support to Ukraine as long as it is needed to liberate the whole territory of Ukraine and ensure long-lasting peace.
  • Effective sanctions against Russia
  • Making Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his regime accountable for their crimes through the International Criminal Court.
  • Investing in collaborations between the UK and Ukrainian universities, schools, and businesses, which will be crucial for the post-war recovery of Ukraine.

The group said the public can help with donations directly to Ukraine and by welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

More than eight million refugees from Ukraine are seeking shelter abroad and more than 161,000 are currently in the UK.

The group is also calling for:

  • An end to the six-plus months of delays to Homes for Ukraine (H4U) visas and the processing of 9,700 applications still awaiting a decision;
  • Better support Ukrainian refugees integrating into UK labour systems, so that they can confirm their qualifications and find jobs easily;
  • Better support for the UK hosts who share their homes and time with refugees;
  • The creation of ‘safety nets’ for the refugees who are unable to return home - meaning a UA Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status) for Ukrainian nationals residing in the UK, similar to that made available to EU nationals after Brexit.

Last night (February 23), Professor Michael Moser from the University of Vienna, gave a lecture titled ‘Revisiting the history of the Ukrainian language’, moderated by Andrii Smytsniuk from Cambridge4Ukraine at Sidney Sussex College.

A national one-minute silence at 11am on Friday was led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Local authorities, including Cambridgeshire County Council, joined communities in observing the silence.

Find out more about support for people from Ukraine, visit cambridge.gov.uk/support-for-ukraine.

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