Hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Russian ambassador’s residence in Dublin on Sunday afternoon, calling for the expulsion of “Russian spies”.
It was one of a series of protests to take place outside the Russian residence and embassy in recent days in opposition to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sunday’s protest was monitored on the ground by a small number of gardaí and from a Garda helicopter overhead. There were no incidents and protest leaders thanked “our friends in the yellow jackets for keeping us safe.”
There were repeated chants of “expel Russian spies” and “Filatov out”, a reference to Yury Filatov, Russia’s ambassador to Ireland.
The Russian embassy on Orwell Road in south Dublin is believed to host a significant number of Russian intelligence agents who pose as diplomats.
The crowd contained many Irish and Ukrainian people as well as demonstrators from other eastern European countries. Many held home signs including ones comparing president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler and calling for a Nato enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“I suppose I’m here to show them they’re not alone,” said Rose Cahill who attended with her 10-year-old daughter. “We have Ukrainian friends and we want to make it clear what side Irish people are on.”
There were chants of “Glory to Zelenskiy,” a reference to president Volodymyr Zelenskiy who has become of symbol of Ukraine’s resistance in recent days, alongside calls to ban all financial transactions with Russia.
An emotional and exhausted Artem Nedostup, one of the protest organisers, said the demonstrations will continue for as long as needed.
He said he could not believe the support he and his fellow Ukrainians have received from the Irish people. “Putin will not stop. If you want to protect your home, start to protect Ukraine,” he told the crowd.
Mr Nedostup told The Irish Times efforts are ongoing to organise an “Irish Ukrainian brigade” to travel and join up with the Ukrainian armed forces in the fight against Russia.
Demonstrators sang the Ukrainian national anthem which was played through a speaker and attendees were invited to speak.
“No joke, are you kidding?” said a woman who gave her name as Tatiana, as she learned the EU is to finance the purchase of weapons for Ukraine’s military. “Slava Ukraini, Heroiam slava,” she shouted (Glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes).
A Venezuelan man called Ricardo said that though his country’s president Nicolás Maduro has expressed support for Russia, the people of Venezuela support Ukraine.
Iryna from Odesa, a city on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, thanked Ireland for “opening your country”, a reference to the Government’s decision to waive visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war.
She invited Irish people “to visit beautiful Ukraine when this is all over.” “Thank you Ireland, thank you Ireland,” the crowd chanted in response.
The largest cheer was reserved for Gráinne, a young Ukrainian-Irish girl. “I believe that we can do this and we can fight. We’re doing quite well if you think about it,” she told the crowd, switching between Ukrainian and English.