Rallies in support of Mariupol defenders held in Lviv and Zaporizhzhia

Rallies in support of Mariupol defenders held in Lviv and Zaporizhzhia

On 18 May, rallies in support of the defenders of Mariupol, who have been in Russian captivity for two years, were held in Zaporizhzhia and Lviv.

This is reported by Radio Svoboda, Ukrinform reports.

In particular, a rally in support of Ukrainian prisoners of war who left Azovstal two years ago was held in Zaporizhzhia. Several hundred cars and bikers took part in the event, carrying thematic posters, national flags, and flags of the units, and drove along the central avenue of the city.

According to the participants, the rally is intended to draw the attention of the public and international organisations to the issue of returning Ukrainian prisoners.

A rally in support of Ukrainian soldiers held in Russian captivity took place in Zaporizhzhia for the third time. Previously, such events took place in the city on 17 February 2024 and 24 December 2023.

In addition, relatives of prisoners of war gathered in Lviv to remind them that 2 years ago, their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and fiancés left Azovstal in Mariupol on the orders of the command. The participants recalled that the Ukrainian defenders were promised that they would be held in captivity for only a few months, but the enemy has been holding them in inhumane conditions for two years.

Read also: Another 18 people, including six children, evacuated from deoccupied Kherson region

"On 18 May 2022, my son was going to be taken prisoner according to orders. It was the last contact with him, the last message that he loves us all. He has been on the exchange list for a long time, but the last exchange of Azov men was a year ago. I don't know what happened to my son... How long do we have to wait? They were told '3-4 months'. It's been 24," said Natalia, the mother of an Azov soldier.

Dozens of people came to support the relatives of the prisoners of war. They held posters "We want to see our relatives at home", "Free Azov", "Bring them back alive", "Don't be silent - captivity kills", "We are at home, they are in hell", "86 days of defence, 2 years of captivity. Where are the exchanges?", "The third spring in captivity", "Waiting for my husband and son", "They also want to live, drink coffee, wake up in their own bed". The participants of the action chanted "Become the voice of the prisoners", "Bring the heroes home".

Drivers of cars and public transport expressed their support by sounding their horns.

Wives of wounded Azovstal prisoners of war reportedly complain that they know nothing about the state's efforts to release their husbands, but consider them insufficient.

Read also: One killed, one injured as enemy drone attacks Stanislav in Kherson region

The authorities assure that they are making every effort to release Ukrainian prisoners, working towards an "all-for-all" exchange. Third countries, including Turkey, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates, often mediate the exchange negotiations.

On 8 February, Ukraine conducted its 51st prisoner of war exchange, releasing 100 people from Russian captivity, most of them defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal.

In total, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, 3,135 Ukrainian citizens have been returned from Russian captivity.

Photo: Halyna Tereshchuk, Yevheniia Nazarova/Radio Svoboda

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