‘We stand with Ukraine’: Meet the group who have been protesting outside the Russian embassy for the last nine monthsPadraig Conlon 01 Dec 2022
Since the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last, a group of up to fifty individuals have been continuously protesting outside the Russian embassy on Orwell Road, Rathgar.
The group is very diverse and is mainly comprised of retired or semi-retired seniors.
Some group members are former public servants, others are former teachers/educators, while others have backgrounds in research, academia, broadcasting/journalism, the arts, engineering, the security sector and management and administration.
A number of group members simply describe themselves as pacifists, local residents or former community and council workers.
While group members hold a range of views on many topics and issues, what binds them together is very strong opposition to and abhorrence of Putin and his regime’s criminal onslaught on Ukraine and its’s people.
The group formed in an unplanned and organic way with many members not knowing one another prior to protesting outside the Russian embassy.
It operates as a loose structure and grouping with no visible hierarchy or defined leadership. Since the groups’ formation relationships and bonds have been formed and members have become friends.
The group has maintained a presence and protest outside the Russian embassy, hail rain or snow for the last nine months.
While no one is rostered to take particular time slots outside the embassy, members have gradually opted for times when they are available to take part in the protest.
The numbers protesting at a particular time can range from a low of two or three up to larger groups of fifteen to twenty.
A typical day on the protest entails a self-selected group of protesters turning up about 10-30 am outside the embassy to hold aloft banners, posters and the Ukrainian flag.
The trees and shrubbery opposite the embassy and the protective fence around its’ entrance is quickly festooned with banners and posters displaying clear messages to Ambassador Filatov and his “diplomatic staff”.
Messages such as “Russia out of Ukraine”, “Putin end this murderous war” and “Stop the War Crimes” are typical.
As lunch time approaches embassy staff leave in convoys of BMWs and Mercedes to go and get their lunch outside the embassy complex.
Members of the protesting group vocalise their opposition and disgust to the departing “diplomats” with chants of “Shame on You”, “Stop Killing children”, “How many hospitals did you bomb today?”.
Many motorists and passers-by on Orwell Road indicate their support for the protest by, a wave, a thumbs up or the beeping of their car horns.
In deference to local neighbours group members do not encourage the latter.
As lunchtime comes to an end around two o’clock or so, the early morning protesters depart with their banners and posters to be replaced by the afternoon “shift”.
The afternoon group of protesters display their banners and posters and give a “warm welcome” to the embassy staff returning from their lunch.
Particular attention and chants are reserved for Ambassador Filatov in his blacked-out chauffeur driven Mercedes.
Group members verbally and visually bring to his attention the reality of Russia’s criminal and murderous invasion of Ukraine.
Group members are very appreciative of the residents who live along Orwell Road and its’ environs as many have indicated support for the ongoing protest in their midst.
Similarly, the group acknowledges the professionalism of the Gardai who are on duty outside the embassy seven days a week.
A recent striking addition to the protest has been the production and display of large banners by one of the members of the group.
Against a backdrop of the colours of the Ukrainian flag the metre and a half wide banners bear simple direct messages to the Russian embassy and the Russian government such as “In Peace Withdraw”, “Unprovoked Killing” and “Lies, Lies and more Lies”
As part of the group’s continuing protest, a Vigil for Peace is being organised for Sunday, December 4, outside the Russian embassy, Orwell Road, commencing at 2-30.
The Vigil will comprise readings of poetry, prose and the singing and playing of Ukrainian music and appropriate seasonal songs.
The group say all are welcome to attend The Vigil on the 4th so as to demonstrate support for the people of Ukraine and opposition to the Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian community in Ireland have been invited to attend and members of the community will be speaking and performing at the Vigil.