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London Stands with Ukraine: Protesters show support one month on from Russian invasion
26 March 2022, 16:50 | Updated: 26 March 2022, 21:41
Thousands of protesters have marched across central London today to show a unified message of support to the people of Ukraine.
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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, invited Londoners to join together on Saturday after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to people across the world to take to the streets to mark one month of the Russian invasion.
On a public invitation, Mayor Khan said the march was an "opportunity to send a unified message of support to the Ukrainian people".
Thousands of people gathered at 2pm on Park Lane and made their way to Trafalgar Square, which was dressed in the Ukrainian colours yellow and blue for the vigil.
The march from Park Lane saw swathes of people heading to Piccadilly Circus, where Yoko Ono’s ‘IMAGINE PEACE’ artwork, commissioned by CIRCA in collaboration with Serpentine, was on display at the Piccadilly Lights.
Chants of "we stand with Ukraine" rang out as traffic behind was brought to a standstill.
Crowds held banners reading "stop (Vladimir) Putin's war", "no fly zone" and "solidarity with Ukraine" and sang as police officers followed.
Once demonstrators arrived at Trafalgar Square, cheers rang as a message from Mr Zelenskyy was played on a huge screen in front of Nelson's Column.
Mr Khan and the Ambassador of Ukraine, Vadym Prystaiko, were among who gave speeches at Trafalgar Square.
Mr Prystaiko told the crowd: "I urge you to keep up the good work, the military and humanitarian aid.
"The sanctions must continue until the Russian economy has stopped in its tracks."
Poetry was also read out by Oscar-winning actress Dame Emma Thompson, who was draped in a Ukrainian flag, and Skins star Kaya Scodelario.
Ukrainian refugees who have fled the war-torn also spoke at the vigil.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko told protesters to "keep together" with Ukraine.
Mr Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, speaking from a military bunker, told the crowd: "We defend right now the same principles.
"Please keep together with our country, keep together with Ukraine."
Speaking to LBC ahead of the march, the London Mayor said: "I am really proud of the actions of Londoners over the last few days and weeks.
"Helping the people of Ukraine in their darkest hour, not just by donating money but by opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees.
"It is really important over the coming days and weeks that we open our arms to those fleeing Ukraine but it is also important that our government makes it far far easier than it currently is.
"It can't be right that it's so difficult for those refugees fleeing Ukraine to come to London. The good news is, we as a city say loudly and clearly refugees are welcome here."
Despite showing his support at the event, Mr Khan later told Sky news that he would not be taking in a Ukrainian family.
"We personally won't be for a variety of reasons not least protections, security reasons and lack of space," he said.
He continued: "It is important throughout the next few days, weeks to make it far, far easier, and much more easier for those who are fleeing Ukraine to come here.
"You compare our Government's actions versus the actions of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, it's embarrassing.
"We've got be doing much more."