The students protesting Putin’s invasion

By Tiffany Chan

Upset, angry, and draped in their national colours, Ukraine’s international students in Durham huddled beneath umbrellas last Monday to protest Putin’s war. Hundreds joined in solidarity as speakers told harrowing stories of their families at home.

Durham students Tatiana Loyko, Yasemin Senai, and Daryna Tryndiuk led the protest in Market Square on Monday, with over 150 demonstrators.

A day after Russia invaded, students in Durham’s Russian Speaking Society had organised a protest outside the Bill Bryson Library.

Ukrainians, Russians and Belarussians stepped up to share how their lives had been transformed by the invasion. Some described receiving calls and messages from their family and friends in the early hours of the morning, to say that the war had begun and they were either participating in the resistance or joining those fleeing across the border.  

Organisers and supporters alike could be seen holding up cardboard signs with slogans such as “Stop the War in Ukraine” and “Putin Stop the War” written in yellow and blue.

Daryna Tryndiuk told Palatinate that attending protests was a way to show solidarity with Ukraine, spread awareness, and share the ways people could help.

“Protests help to get people together and show us that we are not alone with our and calls to our families, that there are people supporting us and ready to talk or just give a hug.”

For Yasemin Senai, “the war in Ukraine is an inhumane act by the autocratic state of Russia and needs to be rebutted internationally. It’s not just a Ukrainian issue – it’s everybody’s problem. And the sooner people realise that the fewer civilian lives will be lost.”

“I think it’s not just a Ukrainian issue – it’s everybody’s problem”

yasemin senai

Tatiana Loyko shared a Ukrainian saying: “We all fight on our fronts. This protest is us fighting and showing Putin that Ukraine has support all over the world, even in Durham”.

Tatiana couldn’t rest while receiving about the war effort. “I sleep with the on, because it is the first thing I need to watch when I wake up. I check lists of people that died, because, God forbid, my parents’ names may be on that list.”

Daryna’s family are fighting the invaders in Kyiv. “I cannot stop thinking about it as my father and my brother are currently in the territorial defence defending my home city, Kyiv. My mum and my aunty are volunteering when they can go out of the bomb shelter.”

“I do not wish anybody what my country is going through. I put a candle for the soldiers, civilians and kids that die every day.”

“I put a candle for the soldiers, civilians and kids that die every day”

Daryna Tryndiuk

The protest organisers shared the many ways that Durham students can help Ukraine. “Let Ukrainians know that they have support. Don’t ask them how they are, because we really do not know the answer to that question.”

They said to show solidarity through “financial or material donations, writing to their local MPs requesting to help Ukraine, and turning up to protests to raise awareness.” They cautioned people against fake charity accounts and reminded them to check the reliability of the source before making donations.

The students have organised a collection point for material help at St. Nicholas’ Church on Market Square. The donated items will be transported to the larger collection points in Edinburgh and London, where they would be delivered to the Ukrainian borders with Poland, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

Daryna urged the University to provide welfare support to everyone. “They have contacted us to get welfare support if needed. But not only Ukrainians need welfare support.”

Tatiana shared a heartbreaking message that the war has taught her. “You have to appreciate how lucky you are. Spend a spare minute just by looking up into the sky, into the stars, because what this war teaches us is that a clear sky is a privilege.”


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