A group of approximately 12 protestors gathered at the top of Bascom Hill on Thursday to protest the Russian military’s invasion of eastern Ukraine which began earlier this week. Demonstrators carried signs and chanted slogans denouncing the actions of president Vladamir Putin and the Russian military.
One protester, who identified herself as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, described the invasion of Ukraine by Russian as inhumane and explained that the demonstrators were gathered to call greater attention to the conflict.
“We are protesting against the war that Russia started in Ukraine,” the protester stated. “We are opposing President Putin’s decision to engage in the inhumane act of doing the war in a country that is full of living human beings.”
The protestor added that several of the demonstrators present at the gathering have friends and family located in Ukraine, making the conflict more personal in nature.
“Many of us have a human connection or relatives in Ukraine which makes us very worried about what is going on. I have family members in Ukraine and I have a lot of friends there as well,” they said.
Another demonstrator named Arsemy, who identified himself as a visiting researcher from Russia, echoed the sentiments of the graduate student protestor, explaining that the gathering was intended to call greater attention to the conflict unfolding in Ukraine.
“We feel that this is our personal and civil position to tell people who don’t know about the situation [in Ukraine] a bit more,” Arsemy stated. “To Americans the situation is something happening somewhere abroad, a long travel from here but this is the thing that really influences world politics … so we are trying to bring attention to it.”
According to the graduate student protester interviewed by the Cardinal, the demonstration was not organized by a particular group but is heavily associated with academic organizations who study Eastern Europe and Central Asia at UW-Madison.
“There is the center for Russian, East European and Central Asian studies at UW-Madison, and all people who are engaged in that community there were absolutely appalled at what is happening and thought that our friends and other faculties and other departments should protest what is going on,” she explained. “We wanted to, as a community… express [our displeasure] publicly.”
Marat Iliyasov, a researcher involved with the Wisconsin Russia Project at UW-Madison, was also present at the demonstration and explained that he hopes western politicians will adopt policies to oppose the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“I wouldn't dare to advise on particular actions… but I believe that a firm stance against the war would probably help out a little bit at least,” Iliyasov stated. “I hope the western politicians will find the courage in themselves to oppose [the war].