Families of Ukrainian prisoners of war (PoWs) held rallies all across Ukraine on Sunday under the slogan of "Don’t be silent! Captivity kills!"
У Києві на Майдані Незалежності відбулася акція «Втрачений зв‘язок», організована родичами військовослужбовців, що перебувають у російському полоні. Рідні захисників розповіли, що майже два роки не мають зв'язку з військовополоненими https://t.co/9F18BF61c5— hromadske (@HromadskeUA) December 10, 2023
Details: The rallies were held in Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Kremenchuk, Cherkasy, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi, and other Ukrainian cities on 10 December.
Hromadske reported that the families of soldiers currently held in Russian captivity have organised a Lost Connection campaign, with a rally held on Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).
Several hundred people gathered for the demonstration, including the families of Ukrainian PoWs and military personnel who have experienced Russian captivity, including combat medic Yuliia "Taira" Paievska, the commander of Taira’s Angels battalion, and Valeriia "Nava" Subotina, formerly a spokesperson for the Azov Brigade.
«Ми стоїмо щитом за наших військовополонених» — у Києві кілька сотень людей вийшли на акцію з вимогою звільнити військовополонених pic.twitter.com/uGuGjTx8fd— hromadske (@HromadskeUA) December 10, 2023
Representatives of various brigades and international organisations, as well as volunteers and charity workers also joined the demonstration.
The event was also attended by government officials from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
Nataliia Zarytska, head of the Women of Steel NGO who organised the demonstration, said that prisoners’ families and friends "are doing everything in their power to keep the authorities and society focused on the issue of bringing the defenders back [to Ukraine]", but their actions have not yet had the desired effect.
Some of the relatives of Ukrainian PoWs said that they have not had contact with those in captivity for almost two years.
In Lviv, a silent demonstration was held in front of the Lviv Opera, and was attended by more than a hundred families of prisoners of war, Radio Liberty reported.
Demonstrators held placards with the following slogans: "Captivity kills", "We are waiting for our Heroes", "Give my father back", "Some people are waiting for holiday gifts, I’m waiting for my husband to come back from captivity", "Bring back the defenders of Mariupol who are still held captive", "My dad, my hero! Bring back our dad", "Bring back my brother", "Bring back our dear defenders", "When everything appears to collapse and you want to give up… Just remember Azovstal".
Demonstrators urged people all over the world to call for prisoner swaps that would see Ukrainian prisoners of war returned to Ukraine.
A similar rally was held in Dnipro, and was attended by over a hundred people. Participants said their goal is to draw public attention to the lack of prisoner exchanges and the inadequate conditions, in which Ukrainian prisoners are held in Russia.
Escorted by the police, participants carrying signs with the "Don’t be silent! Captivity kills!" slogan marched from the city centre to the square in front of the city’s main railway station.
- Russia and Ukraine have effectively stopped exchanging prisoners of war. The last message regarding exchange was published on the Telegram channel of the Ukrainian PoW coordination headquarters on 7 August.
- The Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War believes that Russia suspended the exchange of PoWs to manipulate Ukraine.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that sometimes PoW exchanges with Russia take place immediately on the battlefield.