Several dozens of citizens, mostly parents with children, held an antiwar protest on Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb on Saturday, March 18, expressing support for the Ukrainian fight for freedom under the motto #StandWithUkraine.
At the protest, the organizers read an announcement condemning the war crimes perpetrated by Russian aggressors in Ukraine, while several local Ukrainians expressed personal concern for the safety of their relatives, especially those who are under siege in the seaside Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Protest participants displayed Ukrainian and Croatian flags, shouted slogans and sung Ukrainian songs. The protest also featured a banners with photographs, which compared the situation in Donbas with the siege and bombardment of the Croatian city of Vukovar in 1991. In the three decades after, the devastation and ethnic cleansing that afflicted the city become a powerful symbol of the destructiveness of the Yugoslav Wars and the aggression perpetrated by the Serbian regime headed by Slobodan Milošević.
Besides Croats and Ukrainians, the protesters included citizens of Belarus. They were explaining to the passersby and media that they are equally threatened by the dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who like Russian ruler Vladimir Putin had already imprisoned thousands of dissidents. Among them are individuals who were jailed for simply wearing a white shirt and red sneakers (the colors of the Belarus state flag promoted by the democratic opposition movement). Belarus residents appealed to the Croatian citizens to join the fight against the common evil, “which might knock on their door too” soon.
The protest participants distributed flyers to the passersby, with messages to help Ukraine. The flyers redirected to the Facebook page of the Embassy of Ukraine in Republic of Croatia, Ukrainian Red Cross and the platform www.stopputin.wtf, which provides information and announcements about similar actions around the world.
Quite a few Croatian businesses also express open support for Ukraine. The shop windows in central Zagreb are often presenting symbols with the colors of Ukrainian flag.
Local souvenir shops feature Ukrainian flags alongside the usual Croatian flags and symbols, while certain shops declare that they donate part of their profits “for the children and families endangered by the war in Ukraine.”