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Ukrainians call for more sanctions as pro-Russian motorcade spotted on M6

Many cars had Russian flags and flags with Russian figures on them draped from the windows

Conor Feehan and Kevin Doyle

Dozens of vehicles with Russian flags and emblems have taken part in a convoy to Athlone marking the 77th anniversary of 'Victory Day' when Nazi German forces were defeated.

Gardaí monitored the group’s movements as they travelled down the M6 heading west.

Many cars had large flags and photographs of Russian figures. Some were stretched across the bonnets of the cars, while flags were flown out of windows of others.

As they travelled en masse at around 11am they were followed by gardaí on motorbikes. The Irish Independent observed gardaí instructing two motorbike riders to move on after they stopped on the side of the motorway to film the procession.

Gardaí were also stationed on overpass bridges along the M6 motorway observing the movements of traffic below.

Olexandra Dashko from Kyiv taking part in the Ukranian Peace March in Dublin city today. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Such was the length of the convoy that it took almost five minutes to pass a single point on the road near the town of Kilbeggan in Co Westmeath.

An official Russian ‘Victory Day’ rally which had been planned to take place at the Papal Cross in Phoenix Park today was refused permission by the Office of Public Works (OPW) last week.

The rally was planned to commemorate the Russian victory over the Nazis during WW2 and the sacrifice made by Russian soldiers during the war. It is a day celebrated by Russian communities across the world.

The OPW had requested a signed indemnity form and an event safety management plan as well as relevant insurance cover, and event organisers were expected to meet with the OPW and gardai, but not all the requirements were met with, and the event was refused permission.

There had been criticism of Russian supporters in Ireland last month after an event where they drove vehicles displaying the ‘Z’ symbol along a section of the M50 and in the direction of Swords in North Dublin.

Ukrainians in Ireland protested at the time to have the ‘Z’ symbol being used by Russian forces on military vehicles banned, likening it to the swastika symbols used by Nazis.

Meanwhile, hundreds of members of the Ukrainian community in Ireland held a peace march today from the GPO on O’Connell Street to St Stephen’s Green.

“On this day 77 years ago the unconditional surrender of the Nazi German forces was signed, and people of the world felt joy. At last there was peace and a good, bright future ahead,” said Nick Koslov of the Ukrainian Crisis Centre as he addressed the crowd.

He said Ukraine’s human and material losses during World War II were huge, with between five and seven million Ukrainian’s killed, and 700 towns and cities, as well as 28,000 villages, destroyed.

“Under Stalin’s rule, Russia tried to appropriate the great victory of the civilised world over fascism. Stalin deleted from the awards list the name of Ukrainian lieutenant Alexei Berest, who was one of the first to set the flag of victory over the Reichstag in Berlin.”

“We are now living through challenging times. We do not know whether the hand of the new Fuhrer will not push the ‘nuclear button’. We start each day looking at our iphones, smartphones and computers to check the news. We think about our dear Ukraine every minute. We worry about our soldiers who are defending our relatives and friends, our cultural heritage and the most important values – independence and Freedom of our motherland,” he added.

Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Gerasko Larysa, said war has came to Ukraine when they never expected it.

“Seventy-seven years ago we started to say ‘never again’ while commemorating victims of World War II, but this (war) has again come to our country,” she said.

“We are calling world leaders for more support and for more defensive and offensive weapons to defeat our enemy. And we are calling for more financial support, and more tougher sanctions have to be imposed on Russia,” Ms Larysa added.

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