Ukrainians in Malta hang crosses outside Russian embassy in ‘shame day’ protest

Victory Day is a revered day in Russia, but Ukrainians around the world are flipping the script

Photo provided by Sandro Zammit
Photo provided by Sandro Zammit

Ukrainians in Malta held a peaceful protest outside the Russian embassy on Sunday, hanging banners on the embassy gates and wooden crosses outside its door.

A small group of protestors donned Ukrainian flags while singing the Ukrainian National Anthem. The wooden crosses they placed by the embassy barrier each represented a Ukrainian victim of the conflict playing out in their homeland.

The protest was part of a global effort by the Ukrainian World Congress to rebrand Russia’s 9 May Victory Day as a ‘Russian Shame Day’.

Victory Day is a revered day in Russia. It marks the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Photo provided by Sandro Zammit
Photo provided by Sandro Zammit

But Sandro Zammit, one of the speakers at the protest, said that today’s Russian Shame Day “seeks to show the world the Nazi face of Russia, which deliberately destroys the Ukrainian nation”.

“While telling stories about “Nazism” and “Nazis” in Ukraine, the Russians are acting according to basic Nazi playbooks themselves. On May 8, we must unite with the entire civilized world to honour the victims of World War II and the veterans who fought to defeat Nazism,” he said.

Rita, a young woman who fled from Ukraine three weeks ago, similarly questioned Russia’s war narrative.

“Tomorrow we will see how Russian people will celebrate the victory over the Nazi regime, they will celebrate on the bones of people of Ukraine, above the sounds of victims’ cries. What is the true face of Russians, will they ever understand all this?”

Serhii Zhyrov, another Ukrainian national, took the audience back to 2014 in his speech, recalling when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

“I was driving around the Donetsk region to witness the checkpoints being organised by separatists and russian supporters. I saw the outlaws, released criminals, and separatists taking hostages, robbing and blackmailing Ukrainian families… that was the moment the new stage of the genocide of Ukrainians started.”

Violeta Hromova, a Ukrainian journalist, added that her home country left “the orbit of Russian influence and is returning to the European family, of which it has been a part of for many centuries”.

“We pay the greatest sacrifice for our freedom. Ukraine is losing its best sons. Dozens of people die every day from enemy attacks. There is not a single place in Ukraine where Russian missiles have not reached.”