Ukraine rallies to continue this weekend; Dutch donate €1.5 million in aid
For the second day in a row, demonstrators gathered in various places in the Netherlands in support of Ukraine, and to demand Russia put an end to the war it started there. More rallies are also planned for the weekend. Over the course of Friday afternoon, donations to two Dutch fundraising efforts also topped 1.5 million euros, with a million euros going to the refugee-focused foundation, Stichting Vluchteling, and the rest to the Dutch Red Cross.
The recent protests against the war were held at the NATO office in The Hague, Dam Square in Amsterdam, and the Grote Markt in Groningen. These protests follow Thursday's rallies across the Netherlands.
The main message of more than one hundred protesters outside the NATO office in The Hague was that increased support is needed from the international community. They called on NATO to send troops to Ukraine, even though the Eastern European nation is not formally part of the NATO alliance. “We want to show that many people care about this and we want help from the world to stop Russia,” said one of the protesters in an interview with ANP.
The protesters’ fury at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s action has been channeled into trying to hold him personally accountable. “It has to be hard against hard. We want to see him end up in front of a tribunal.”
Sources told ANP that the European Union is closer to including sanctions that will directly and personally target Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This could potentially freeze their assets in the European Union.
Another area of concern for protesters is the situation at the former Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Russia took control of the area on Thursday and protesters are worried about the possibility of another nuclear disaster. More people continued their demonstrations in Amsterdam on Friday, finding ways to show their support for Ukraine. Several dozen people could be seen carrying Ukrainian flags and a banner reading "Stop Russia’s War."
There are more protests planned over the weekend, according to a Facebook post from the Ukrainians in the Netherlands Foundation. A list of protests was posted on the page with a warning attached about misinformation, including fake fundraising accounts. Therefore, the foundation asked that people only attend demonstrations and protests which they identify and promote. They also called for volunteers to join them and help out in any way possible.
On Saturday protests will be held at the MH17 memorial in Eindhoven at noon. An international team of investigators as well as the Public Prosecution service of the Netherlands has long held that the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down by Russian military and Russian-backed separatists. They allegedly used a Russian military launcher to fire a surface-to-air Buk missile at the plane while it was flying over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Nearly 300 people died on the flight that originated in Amsterdam. Half of them were Dutch citizens. Russia has never accepted responsibility for the incident, and has often blamed Ukraine for taking down the flight.
Another rally is also scheduled to be held at the Ministry of Defence in The Hague. at 1 p.m. Protesters will also congregate on Dam Square in Amsterdam on Sunday at 3 p.m. Also in Amsterdam, the Sunday mass at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas will be dedicated to the crisis in Ukraine. The mass will be attended by Ukraine's ambassador to the Netherlands, Masksym Kononenko.
"This Sunday the celebration will be dominated by the war situation in Ukraine," the church said in an announcement. "During the celebration we will pray for the situation there, for the victims of the bombings and, of course, for a solution to this terrible drama."