Limerick marchers shed tears for men fighting in Ukraine

Some of the participants in last weekend's protest by Ukrainian refugees in Limerick.

ANASTASIIA Filippov from Kyiv is mourning the death of her good friend, a champion boxer, who died last week defending their homeland from the invading Russian forces.

And while her grief for the 22-year-old who should have had a brilliant future is massive, she is also overwhelmed every day with worry about her husband, Viktor and her dad, who are still in the thick of the fighting.

Anastasiia was one of large group of Ukrainian refugees who organised a protest march in Limerick against the war in their homeland last weekend when they met with a big level of local support.

Speaking about her life with her husband at home, she told the Limerick Post, “We had plans, we had dreams – now we have nothing.”

Anastasiia arrived in Limerick last month after driving in her car with her mother, two grandparents and her sister for five days to reach France and a ferry to Ireland.

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“I talk to them (her husband and dad) by text but it is so difficult. It is very dangerous – they know the only way is to fight or to die.”

Speaking about her friend, champion boxer, Artem Mosha, she said “he was fighting for Ukraine. He was not any Neo-Nazi.”

She said the refugee protest was to highlight the plight of the injured and those still fighting in Ukraine and particularly in the besieged cities of Azovstal and Mariupol.

“We have to to do everything we can for them to ask the government and the media to help them. That is why we marched.”

Also on the march was Natalia Nikolaichuk, who has been in Ireland for two months and whose husband, Alex and son, Andrew, are still in Ukraine.

“It is their duty to stay in case the military calls them,” Natalia told the Limerick Post through interpretation by her other son Yehor.

The fighters – and the remaining civilians – still trapped in Azovstal are very much in the minds of Ukrainian people here, she revealed.

“They are trapped. They are basically dead men walking. Murder is being committed and broadcast live for everyone to watch. This should not be happening in this age.”

Natalia said that the Ukrainian fighters “are defending the values of the civilised world, not just the freedom of Ukraine.”

She said that it will take “a miracle” for the people still in Azovstal to be brought out alive, but she believes that “together, we can save so many of Ukraine’s best people”.

Ruth Clarke, a Limerick woman who helped organise the march, said that members of the Ukrainian community reached out to her on Facebook, desperate to do something.

“Ukrainian people on Saturday gathered in dignity for peace, protesting for those people in Ukraine who never envisaged picking up a rifle and now find themselves fighting on the frontline.

“I got involved because I find it absolutely unbelievable that one man can break and impede every humanitarian and international law and the international community are not stopping him,” she said.

“The Limerick people who helped the Ukrainians coordinated this and the Ukrainian people in Limerick were overwhelmed by the warmth and support shown from them by the Limerick people,” continued Ruth.

“They want to thank them sincerely for the lovely car hoots, clapping, kind words and for those that joined us as a symbol of support when they encountered us on the streets of Limerick on Saturday.”