Thousands of Russians demonstrate in Prague against Vladimir Putin
Several thousand demonstrators, mainly Russians, gathered on Saturday in Prague to denounce the military offensive ordered by President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and demand an end to the war.
Some five thousand people, according to organizers, marched through the historic center of Prague chanting: “Russia without Putin”, “Freedom for Russia, Peace for Ukraine”Where “Putin is not Russia”.
“The Czech Republic is home to forty thousand Russians and, until now, these Russians were unknown to the Czechs”told Agence France-Presse (AFP) the organizer of the demonstration, Anton Litvine, an artist and activist who has lived in Prague for ten years. “We want to show that the Russians who live here are against Putin, against the war, that they support Ukraine”he added.
“The Russians here are not Putinists, they are Europeans”, underlined the activist, holding a blue and white flag like those waved by the demonstrators. The Russian tricolor (white, blue, red) has been reinvented for the occasion, he explained. “We don’t want that red stripe that symbolizes blood, so we removed it. Now there is only the whiteness of the snow and the pure blue of the sky”he said.
The signs held up by the demonstrators also called on the Russians “to speak up and fight the real enemy, not Ukraine”, and called the Russian president a killer. Heading to Wenceslas Square, protesters also called on Mr Putin to release political prisoners, including Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced this week to nine years in a harsh-regime colony.
Earlier in the day, activists painted the stairs of the Russian embassy in Prague blood red.