Tens of thousands of people gathered at the Estonian capital’s Freedom Square today to protest against the Russian war against Ukraine.
“We will rally to support the Ukrainian nation and condemn the aggressive war that Russia has started against Ukraine,” the organisers, including the local Ukrainian organisations as well as many Estonian NGOs, said. “We ask the Estonian government, the European Union and NATO to give Ukraine all the possible aid that could help them to resist the aggressor.”
Several Estonian artists performed at the demonstration, including Ruslan Trochynskyi, who was born in Ukraine, and Stefan, who was born into an Armenian-Estonian family.
The Estonian president, Alar Karis, also gave a speech at the peaceful demonstration.
In his speech, Karis quoted a post by a Russian woman on how she’s being contacted on the social media by Ukrainians and Russians. “The Ukrainians write: ‘Please tell the Russians that we’re against the war’. And Russians write: ‘Please tell all Ukranians that we’re against the war’. If the Ukrainians and the Russians are against the war, who’s in favour of the war,” the president rhetorically asked. “This is not a war of the Russian people against Ukraine and the Ukrainians. This is president Putin’s war”.
Karis noted that the Ukrainians were fighting bravely for their country and their bravery deepened the anguish of millions who feel that Western governments watch Russia’s aggression, powerless and unable to stop the aggressor.
“Western countries have imposed new economic sanctions on Russia as an aggressor. But they’re not enough and we need an agreement, for example, on the exclusion of Russian banks from the international payment system SWIFT. This could hurt the West in some ways as well, but this pain must be endured. The pain of the Ukrainians is greater,” the president said.
“I ask all of my compatriots to open their souls and the doors of Estonia to the Ukrainian refugees. Let’s show we’re compassionate and caring by nature. I ask everyone to be supportive of the Ukrainian community in Estonia, to help those whose loved ones have been caught up in this war,” Karis added.
According to the Estonian Police and Border Guard, at its peak, there were almost 30,000 people at the square – one of the largest demonstrations to have taken place at Freedom Square in recent decades. People were also lining the surrounding areas of the square.
Photos by Silver Tambur, except where stated.