IN PICTURES: Protests against war in Ukraine spring up across Germany

Groups of protestors gathered across Germany on Thursday in solidarity with Ukraine as the country finds itself under siege from Russia.

IN PICTURES: Protests against war in Ukraine spring up across Germany
People demonstrate in front of the Brandenburg Gate against the Russian attack on Ukraine on Thursday. Photo: dpa | Kay Nietfeld

In Berlin, the Brandenburg gate was lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag overnight as a sign of Germany’s support for the nation and its citizens.

Thursday morning saw groups of protestors gather on Pariser Platz, in front of the gate, wrapped in blue-and-yellow flags. The majority of them were Ukrainian, according to news reports, and many were in tears.

Anton Kushch, 35, a Ukrainian software engineer, said he woke up to “a push notification on my phone about war” and had been sent “messages on my phone with all these burning tanks on the roads”.

Protesters at the Brandenburg Gate in Thursday. Photo: dpa | Paul Zinken

“It’s hard to believe, it’s surreal,” he said. “This is just catastrophic for the whole world… But we have what we have, a tyrant sitting there in the Kremlin.”

Student Sofia Avdeeva, 22, from the disputed Donetsk region, described Putin as a “war criminal” and said she hoped “the same thing he is putting people through happens to him and his family”.

Russians also joined the protests, with some holding placards outside the Russian embassy.

Ukrainian protest Berlin

Protesters hold up a Ukrainian flag in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

“We want to show that we are against the war,” said Ekaterina Studnitzky, 40, a teacher from Moscow, holding a cardboard Ukraine flag.

“Ukraine was always a very friendly and close country to us. We have a lot of relatives there, a lot of friends. Nobody wants this war,” she said.

“This is just terrible. Ukrainian and Russian people are brothers and sisters,” said Olga Krupacina, 32, a student from Kaliningrad.

READ ALSO: Berlin’s Russian community torn between war fears and loyalty

Protests were also staged in Munich, where demonstrators gathered in front of the Russian consulate in the Maria-Theresia-Straße. A further protest was held in front of the state parliament.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, more protests have been registered for the coming days.

Protesters at an anti-war demo in front of the Russian consulate in Munich on Thursday evening. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

A sign referencing the film ‘Goodbye Lenin’ is held up at a protest in front of the Russian consulate in Munich on Thursday. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

Some 1,500 people attended a demonstration in central Frankfurt. According to the Frankfirter Allgemeine Zeitung, the crowd repeatedly shouted “freedom for Ukraine” and held signs reading ‘Stop Putin’ and ‘how much life is gas worth?’

Protesters hold signs in central Frankfurt on Thursday. Photo: dpa | Hannes Albert

In the northern city-state of Hamburg, around 200 protesters gathered in front of the Russian Consulate General for a solidarity rally organised by the youth wings of the CDU, FDP, SPD and Greens.

“We strongly condemn this action, which is contrary to international law, and stand in solidarity with Ukraine,” the youth organisations said.

“We call on Russia to respect the integrity of European borders and to return to the negotiating table.”

Protesters outside the Russian Consular General

Youth activists hold a demo outside the Russian Consular General in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

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Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.