Ukrainians who fled war in Ireland today campaigned for a ban on the public display of the Russian war ‘Z’ symbol after seeing it used by pro-Russian supporters on vehicles in Dublin .
Ideas circulated on social media of a convoy of vehicles displaying Russian flags and the letter “Z” displayed on their doors.
The letter “Z”, and sometimes the letter “V”, are used by Russian forces in Ukraine to identify their tanks and other combat vehicles, and Ukrainians have said it has become the swastika of Russian warfare.
Some countries like Latvia have already banned its display.
More than 100 people gathered outside Leinster House today to demand the government ban the ‘Z’ symbol.
“The Ukrainian community in Ireland called this meeting because on Sunday there was a gathering of Russian supporters displaying Russian army symbols and Russian army flags in support of the Russian action, and they were mainly displaying the letter ‘Z’ which has become a symbol of war in Ukraine because the Russian military marks its vehicle with a ‘Z’ and a ‘V’, said Nick Koslov of the Ukrainian Crisis Center.
“These letters were posted in this convoy on the M50 and then turned around in the direction of Swords.”
“Today we want to send a strong message to the Irish government and the Irish public that the display of these symbols represents the war that has killed civilians and children, raped women and raped children in front of women in Ukraine, and we are outraged.
“The swastika became a symbol when the Nazis used it for their purposes. The Russians use ‘Z’ and I believe it is a swastika for us Ukrainians. A few European countries, Latvia I think, have already prohibited the use of this letter on public postings.
“I hope the Irish government will hear us out because as we said today, cars are showing ‘Z’ today, but tomorrow it could be tanks showing ‘Z’,” he said. he added.
Ielizaveta Karamushka is from Ukraine but has lived in Dublin for several years. She told how her uncle was killed in the war in recent weeks.
“Everyone here knows someone who was killed. My uncle was killed by a tank with the symbol “Z” near Izyum, the area that is now occupied. He was protecting his land. If that’s not genocide, then I don’t know what is,” she said.
“His whole family stayed in Hostomel near Bucha, which was destroyed, for more than ten days in a basement under heavy shelling and waiting for a chance to escape.”
“They escaped a few days before Russia completely occupied this territory and killed all their neighbors who stayed or did not escape. He was protecting his family and his land.
“He was over 50 but he had four children. His wife, mother, two children and both parents fled to Poland, and they discovered that he had been killed while they were in Poland.
“My godfather’s best friend was shot in Bucha. There are many such stories. Everyone knows someone. Russians also use the symbol “Z” on the Internet. I no longer feel safe in Ireland when I see Russian war symbols on these vehicles driving around Ireland. she added.
Families who have fled war in recent weeks and made Ireland their home have hailed the warm welcome they have received.
And while they are now in hotels, they don’t know what accommodation they will have over time.
“We now live in a hotel, but ideally we would like our next move to be back in Kharkiv,” said Sophia Tyshchenko (14) who traveled here with her mother Tetiana and sister Maria (11). Their father stayed in Ukraine because he is old enough to fight, but he has not yet been called up to join the Russian forces.
“Once the war started, we stayed underground for ten days, then we went to Moldova, Romania, Hungary and arrived here a month ago.”
“We are now in a hotel which is perfect, and we think we can stay there for three months. Dublin is an amazing city. I’m at Marino College and making new friends,” she added.
Vaslyl Shepetivk was able to flee Kyiv to Ukraine with his wife Lara because they have four children.
“A man can leave if he has three or more children, so I was able to stay with them. We have four small children, so that was the major factor in our departure. It was very dangerous for us to stay there,” he said.
“We are very happy to stay in this country. The government is very nice to us. I’m looking for a job and maybe after that we’ll look for our own house. The children have adapted well. All the teachers at the school were very nice. All we hear is “you’re welcome”. It’s very good for us,” he added.