Second year of captivity: Ukrainians in Spain, France, and Poland demand release of Mariupol defenders

May 20,2024 383
Second year of captivity: Ukrainians in Spain, France, and Poland demand release of Mariupol defenders

The Ukrainian Community in Spain for the Rights, Honor, and Dignity of Ukrainians rallied in Madrid, demanding the global community to help free the defenders of the Mariupol and Azovstal steel plant. The demonstration took place ahead of the second anniversary of the Ukrainian military’s exit from the city on the shores of the Sea of Azov.

Joining Ukrainians at the event in Madrid were dozens of people of other nationalities. “Captivity kills. Freedom to the defenders of Mariupol,” activists shouted. Yury Chopyk, the Ukrainian Community Leader in Spain, and activist Andriy Borshchak addressed the attendees.

“Ukrainians in Madrid and Spain respond to Pope Francis’ call for an ‘all for all’ exchange of prisoners of war and advocate for increased efforts to release the defenders of Mariupol, Azov fighters, marines, Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers, and civilians,” said Yury Chopyk.

Activists called on representatives of churches, religious figures, politicians, diplomats, international representatives, and human rights activists. “Help release all defenders of Mariupol, all Ukrainian service members and civilians,” said Andriy Borshchak. Together, those present chanted, “Free the defenders of Ukraine.”

On May 18, the Free Azovstal Defenders rally was held in Warsaw, where representatives of the Ukrainian community staged a dramatic portrayal, recreating the harrowing image of captives with bloodied sacks over their heads and hands bound by iron chains.

In Paris on May 18, a rally was also held. “Today in Paris with the wife of a Ukrainian soldier imprisoned in Russia for defending Azovstal. Her husband and his fellow fighters have been tortured every day for 2 years. Freedom to Ukrainian prisoners of war,” wrote Volodymyr Kogutyak, UWC Vice President for Western Europe.

During the Ukrainian World Congress Summit in Bucharest, UWC leaders urgently appealed to the international community to intensify efforts to secure the swift release of Mariupol prisoners of war. 

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