Ukrainians in Malta staged a peaceful protest outside the Russian embassy on Sunday, hanging banners at the embassy’s gates and wooden crosses outside its door.
A small group of protesters strung Ukrainian flags while singing the Ukrainian national anthem. The wooden crosses they placed near the embassy fence each represented a Ukrainian victim of the conflict unfolding in their home country.
The protest was part of a global effort by the Ukrainian World Congress to rebrand May 9, Russia’s Victory Day, as the “Day of Russian Shame”.
Victory Day is a revered day in Russia. It marks the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II.
But Sandro Zammit, one of the speakers at the protest, said today’s Day of Russian Shame “seeks to show the world the Nazi face of Russia, which is deliberately destroying the Ukrainian nation”.
“While telling stories about ‘Nazism’ and ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine, Russians themselves act according to basic Nazi manuals. On May 8, we must unite with the entire civilized world to honor the victims of World War II and veterans who fought to defeat Nazism,” he said.
Rita, a young woman who fled Ukraine three weeks ago, also questioned Russia’s war narrative.
“Tomorrow we will see how the Russian people will celebrate the victory over the Nazi regime, they will celebrate on the bones of the Ukrainian people, above the cries of the victims. What is the real face of the Russians, will they one day understand all this?
Serhii Zhyrov, another Ukrainian national, took the audience back to 2014 in his speech, recalling when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.
“I was driving in the Donetsk region to attend checkpoints organized by Russian separatists and partisans. I saw outlaws, freed felons and separatists taking hostages, robbing and blackmailing Ukrainian families…that’s when the new stage of genocide of Ukrainians began.
Violeta Hromova, a Ukrainian journalist, added that her home country had left “the orbit of Russian influence and returned to the European family, of which it had been a part for many centuries”.
“We are paying the greatest sacrifice for our freedom. Ukraine is losing its best sons. Dozens of people die every day from enemy attacks. There is not a single place in Ukraine where Russian missiles have not reached.