Ukrainians in the West Midlands are following events in the country closely today (October 14th 2019) as friends and family protest against changes to a peace deal with Russia.
“We are really worried,” says Lyudmila, who lives in Birmingham.
“The last time the protests ended really badly. Most of us have families and friends in Ukraine so it’s no surprise we are worried sick here.”
It is the second demonstration in Ukraine this month. On October 6, almost 10,000 people protested against a deal with Moscow known as the ‘Steinmeier Formula’.
“My cousins are out there in Kyiv marching right now,” said Lyudmila, who left Ukraine so her sons wouldn’t go to war.
“I’m calling them every other hour just to make sure they are alright.
“I’m praying every second for my family and for my nation. I hope these protests will end peacefully.”
Polina, another Ukrainian in the West Midlands, left Ukraine in 2014 during the Maidan revolution. Almost all of her friends are marching in Kyiv today.
“My close friends in Ukraine are protesting, so I know what’s going on: they are sending me pictures and videos.
“I am a bit nervous and my husband and I are praying for people who risk their life so they can be heard.”
She and her family settled in Wolverhampton but some members of her family are still in constant danger. She added:
“Of course I wish only peace for Ukraine but the Steinmeier Formula isn’t the right way.
“I know I have no right to say something, because I left my country, but my heart still aches for Ukraine and Ukrainian people.”
Lyudmila and her family moved to Birmingham from Mariupol in 2015. She says it was impossible to live peacefully in her hometown after the war started.
“We were constantly worried. I’ve got two sons and I was scared that they would be forced to go to war, so we decided to leave.”
She says her husband lost his brother in the war, and it has affected her family “in a huge way.
“We are always keeping up to date with Ukrainian news and we really worried about our home country. If I were there right now, I would go out and protest with people. Russia has to take responsibility for all dreadful things they’ve done.
“We don’t have a lot of Ukrainians in Birmingham, but we stick together, usually we meet in church every month, but due to the current situation, we have met four times this month.”