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Stand with Ukraine: Thousands join solidarity march in Brussels
Around 5,000 people according to Brussels-Ixelles police, 8,000 said organiser Promote Ukraine, demonstrated in support of Ukraine in Brussels city centre on Sunday.
The rally started at 13.00 in Boulevard Roi Albert II before demonstrators set off around 14.00 for Place Jean Rey, reports RTBF.
They paraded placards with slogans like ‘Stop the war’, ‘Europe, be brave, act now’ and ‘Close the skies’ along with flags of Ukraine and other eastern European countries. Some people carried yellow flowers surrounded by blue ribbons.
There were chants of ‘Russians, go home’, while Yana Brovdiy, one of the organisers, pleaded: "Support Ukraine by all possible means. Ukrainians don't want to become refugees in Europe. They want to defend themselves and keep their country."
One of the many Ukrainian nationals present called for a no-fly zone in Ukraine in the hope of bringing a quicker end to the war. "My parents who are pensioners worked in a nuclear power plant in the south (Konstantinovka). They still live nearby and my father who is sick cannot leave the country. We fear a similar attack to the one on the Zaporizhia power plant.”
Belgians were also among the international crowd. "To see these people who lose everything, these village houses razed for nothing, it's unbearable," said former VUB rector Pierre Demaret, who last demonstration when he was 18, against the Vietnam war. "It brings up a lot of things for our golden generation. For the first time in the history of the Europe, we were approaching a century without war. We are in a moment of changeover," he said, concerned about the possible snowball effect of the conflict in Ukraine.
The Promote Ukraine organisation also launched a fundraiser on Sunday to aid the Ukrainian Army and Ukrainian people.
Second rally cancelled
A second peace march scheduled for Sunday afternoon, between Square des Héros and the Russian Embassy in Avenue de Fré, was finally cancelled.
Organiser Björn Becker explained on Facebook: "I regret to inform you that I have to cancel the event scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. At this stage of the planning, I am unable to guarantee a smooth operation. I have not been able to get more participants, contact the media, coordinate with the Ukrainian Embassy or prepare flyers."