Members of Calgary’s Ukrainian community symbolically bound their hands and marched to the Downtown Core on Saturday, calling for the release of Russian held prisoners of war.
The community is calling for increased pressure on the Russian Federation to release soldiers and civilians captured from Mariupol, Ukraine.
Serafima Rudik, a Ukrainain university student who arrived in Calgary several months ago as an evacuee, organized the protest.
“We are here in order to ask international organizations to check, verify, the conditions of our defenders that are still are in captivity for more than two months,” she said.
Rudik said that they’re asking the Government of Canada to put increased pressure on the Russian Federation not to hold criminal trials for the Ukrainian soldiers captured in Mariupol.
The Russian government has said they intend to hold trials for prisoners, claiming that war crimes were perpetrated by Ukrainian forces while defending the city. A statement announcing the trials to international media, made by breakaway Donetsk Republic politician Denis Pushilin, did not state what these alleged war crimes were.
Pushilin has been sanctioned by numerous governments, including that of Canada.
British born Sean Pinner, who had lived in Ukraine for over 4-years, and serves as a member of the Ukrainian armed forces, was sentenced to death on June 9, by a court in the breakaway Donetsk Republic.
That court also sentenced two other British and Morocco born men to death, in what human rights observers have called show trials.
The sentences have been widely condemned by governments worldwide, including those of the United Kingdom, and the United Nations, as ignoring international law.
Rudik said that it has been challenging to see what has been going on in her home country.
“I’m lucky here to be with my family, and that is my biggest support here, but still, our parents and our friends, our boyfriends and husbands are still there,” she said.
“For us, it’s extremely difficult to overcome it by ourselves.”