The expat Ukrainian community in Bogotá held an emotive ceremony and rally accompanied by other foreign nationals and concerned Colombians in front of the Russian Embassy on Tuesday, and latest demonstration by anti-war protestors. During a ceremony that included the singing of Ukraine’s national anthem and Catholic prayer “Our Father” in Ukrainian, the peaceful protest was presided-over by the Ukrainian performance artist and Youtuber Rostyslav Kalastsynskyi.
Known by his artistic name as “Rostys Love,” the Ukrainian husband to a Colombian wife, and father of a Colombo-Ukrainian daughter, sent a direct message to President Iván Duque, after pouring red paint over his white shirt. “The only color that separates the Ukrainian flag from the Colombian is red, but red is now a part of the Ukrainian (flag), for all the blood that is being shed in our homeland. We leave the blood of all Ukrainians at the door of the Russian Embassy por your inaction.”
As tears welled up in the eyes of the protestors, many with loved ones in cities being systematically bombed by Russia, Rostyslav also petitioned the government for a meeting with the Ukrainian community and closure of Russia’s diplomatic representation. “No to an Embassy in Colombia that supports a crazy fascist!” he said.
With the large stone wall of the Russian Federation’s Embassy draped in a flag that has become synonymous over the last week with resistance, bravery and freedom, many Ukrainians in the Colombian capital expressed feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair watching horrific scenes on the news.
Rostyslav asked Colombians to show their solidarity with the peace-loving peoples of Ukraine, by using in social media posts the hastags #nomasguerraenucrania and #ucraniaresisteputindesiste. “Colombians can’t remain silent with this genocide,” he stated emphatically, before placing red roses at the entrance to the Embassy “as a symbol of the love we share for Colombia.”
“Every time I call my parents, I think this will be my last call,” said Olga, holding a placard with Putin’s face juxtaposed as Hitler.
The City Paper compiled a series of testimonies from Ukrainians who participated in the protest, in order to best tell their personal stories of suffering far from their loved ones.