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Russian embassy targeted in London as protesters assemble over Ukraine invasion

Tearful protesters branded Vladimir Putin a “barbarian” and “an animal” as they gathered in London to express their anger at the invasion of Ukraine.

Hundreds gathered both outside Moscow’s embassy in Kensington and in Downing Street, calling for the Russian leader to withdraw his forces.

Waving flags, banners and placards, protesters sang the Ukrainian anthem and chanted “Putin stop war”, “Putin go home” and “free Ukraine“.

Similar rallies have taken place elsewhere in the UK and in Ireland, including in Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin, as well as across the globe.

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People take part in a demonstration on Whitehall, at the entrance to Downing Street
People take part in a demonstration on Whitehall, at the entrance to Downing Street, London, to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture date: Saturday February 26, 2022.
People take part in a demonstration on Whitehall, at the entrance to Downing Street, London, to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture date: Saturday February 26, 2022.

The embassy’s walls in Kensington Palace Gardens were covered in chalk-written messages, drawings of Ukrainian flags, splattered eggs and fake blood.

Dozens of people were wearing Ukrainian flags tied around their necks and holding flowers.

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Helena Kovalenko, 33, originally from northern Ukraine, said: “I’m so angry with Putin for invading my Ukraine.

“I have family there, my mum and dad, and I’m so scared for them.”

Ms Kovalenko, who has lived in the UK for nine years, added: “I’m here today to call for this country to help.

“Putin has to go.”

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Children gesture under a large rainbow flag as they take part in an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Milan, Italy, February 26, 2022. The flag reads: "Peace" REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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Anti-war protesters in Milan joined the chorus of support for Ukraine
People take part in an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Budapest, Hungary, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Morton Monus
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Support also came at a rally in Budapest, Hungary

Another protester originally from Ukraine, named Andriy, 27, said he had joined the protest to call for other countries to “do more”.

He said: “The world can’t watch as my people suffer – Putin is a barbarian, he’s an animal.

“If sanctions don’t stop him, the UK, the US and Europe must be prepared to do everything.”

Some in the crowd, which blocked a path outside the embassy, held posters comparing the Russian leader to Hitler.

Demonstrators gather during an anti-war protest in Munich, Germany, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Lukas Barth
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People in Munich, Germany, voiced their anger

‘Stop bombing my family’

Others had tears in their eyes, while others were visibly angry as dozens of police officers watched on.

One man who had been chanting and moving among the crowd was stopped briefly by police.

Another protester said he was there to “stand in solidarity” with Ukraine.

A banner, held above the crowd, had “stop bombing my family” written on it.

People hold banners at a protest against Russia's massive military operation in Ukraine, in London, Britain February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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One banner compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler

In Manchester, hundreds gathered in Piccadilly Gardens.

The crowd, also with many wearing Ukrainian blue and yellow, waving flags and with traditional flower headbands, sang Ukrainian songs and chanted: “Stop Putin. Stop the war.”

Prayers in Ukrainian and English were led by a priest.

Earlier this week, more than 1,700 anti-war protesters were arrested across 54 cities in Russia – as scores of demonstrators voice their fury over their president’s invasion.

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