Ukrainian protests in London - 3
Photo: Darya Malyutina; Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Members of the Ukrainian diaspora protesting in London


Ukrainians living in London have been very active since the early days of Euromaidan. Motivated by a desire to help compatriots back home and make Ukraine a democratic country, free from corruption, authoritarianism and Russia’s meddling, they have organised numerous protests, the last three of which were connected to the MH17 air disaster. Darya Malyutina, a London-based migration researcher, who has focused on the transnational politics of the Ukrainian activist community, takes us inside their feelings and actions.

Just hours after the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, a few dozen Ukrainians laid flowers in front of the Dutch and Malaysian Embassies in London. This group of activists then headed to the Russian Embassy and demonstrated there because, according to circumstantial evidence, the plane seemed to have been downed by a surface-to-air missile apparently launched by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk area.  On 20 July, three days after the tragedy, they gathered with flags and banners for another rally in front of the Russian embassy, chanting "Putin is a terrorist!" "Where are the British? Where are the Dutch and the Malaysians? Why aren’t they protesting with us?", they asked. On 21 July, they were at Whitehall, in front of the prime minister’s residence, calling for sanctions to be imposed on Russia. 

In fact, since the end of November 2013, when Euromaidan started in Kiev, protesting has become a common way of expressing political agency for members of Ukrainian communities around the world. The MH17 crash, an event which may yet have further massive international consequences, was one of the most critical points in the Ukrainian crisis; the diaspora reacted immediately.

Published in Contentious Europe
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