The widow of poisoned former spy Alexander Litvinenko has said she is “very proud” of the Russians who have stood against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as an “unprecedented” number attended a rally in London.

Maria Litvinenko spoke to the media outside the Russian Embassy where hundreds of protesters held placards condemning Putin one year after the war began.

Mrs Litvinenko said the demonstration proved there are many Russians who do not support President Putin.

The demonstrators chanted: “Victory for Ukraine, freedom for Russia”, and: “Stop Putin, stop the war” as they walked from Marble Arch to the embassy in Kensington to protest against the war in Ukraine.

Mrs Litvinenko said: “I’m very proud to see this big crowd of Russian people. They’ve all been very loud in saying how they support Ukraine and how they hate Putin because he is why they might need to have left the country.

“When we talk about Putin now we are talking about a person who started a war but he has committed a lot of crimes against individuals, countries and people.

“He killed my husband Alexander. I believe he gave the order and he has now killed a lot of innocent Ukrainians.”

Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, speaks during a protest by members of the Russian Democratic Society, a group of Russian citizens living in the UK, outside the Russian embassy in London, to mark the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture date: Saturday February 25, 2023. PA Photo. The society was established in the UK in 2022 following the total invasion of Russian forces into Ukraine. It has raised more than ?18,000 to buy generators for Ukraine in the wake of mass power outages, and more than ?10,000 in support of refugee shelters in Armenia, Montenegro, and Kazakhstan. See PA story POLITICS Ukraine. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Mrs Litvinenko says there are many Russians who do not support Putin’s war (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

She added: “We need to be proud to speak the Russian language. We need to use the Russian language to say Slava Ukraini – glory to Ukraine – and say in Russian: ‘Putin is a criminal’. This is very important. Not all of Russia supports this war.”

The story of Mr Litvinenko’s death was depicted in the ITV mini-series Litvinenko in December last year, with Mark Bonnar and David Tennant starring alongside Russian-America actress Margarita Levieva, who played Mrs Litvinenko.

The road outside the embassy remains stained in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag after activist group Led by Donkeys poured 170 litres of paint on it on Thursday.

More from News

One man held a poster mocking a packet of cigarettes that read: “Putin kills”, while another cardboard placard that carried pictures of Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny read: “Without victory there can be no survival”.

The crowd then heard speeches from Mrs Litvinenko, opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky and financier Bill Browder, among others.

Mr Browder, who leads the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, which is seeking democracy in Russia, said the number of Russians present at the demonstration was “unprecedented”.

He said: “Everybody talks about how the Russians are brainwashed. These people aren’t brainwashed. These are Russian citizens and Russian emigres who are saying that Putin’s murderous war in Ukraine is not OK.

“What it tells you is that Putin’s brainwashing doesn’t work outside of his own propaganda bubble inside Russia. These people know the truth and they know the truth is horrific.

“What Putin is doing is criminal, murderous and disgusting, and they don’t want it in their name.”

He added: “I think the number of people here is absolutely unprecedented. There were a number of Russians before who may have been upset about Putin but didn’t want to come out on the streets. But what he’s doing in Ukraine requires people to come out on the street.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25: A woman carries a placard during a rally by the Russian embassy to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 25, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. The British people have stood with Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on 24th February, 2022. To date 82,100 refugees have been welcomed and many have settled with host families. The Disasters and Emergency Commission report that the British public and businesses have raised ??400 million in donations. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Thousands of people have taken to the streets to mark one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

The protesters flew the flags of Ukraine and the Russian democracy movement, which replaces the bottom red stripe of the Russian flag with a white stripe.

Placards on display read: “No to bloody Russian imperialism”, while one showed the face of Russian president Vladimir Putin captioned with: “War criminal”.

The protesters also chanted “Russians against the war”, “hands off Ukraine” and “jets for Ukraine” as they walked.

Ksenia Maximova, the founder of the Russian Democratic Society (RDS), which organised the protest, said in her speech: “This is a time for action and time to come together. Putin’s government spent years instilling hate in people’s hearts.

“We are more united than ever. We are now in nearly every country and growing stronger by the day.”

The RDS was founded in the aftermath of the invasion and has raised more than £18,000 to send generators to Ukraine to limit the impact of blackouts.

It has also donated more than £10,000 to refugee shelters in Kazakhstan, Armenia and Montenegro.

By admin