Hong Kong's Ukrainians rally against Russian invasion, then join Russia ball

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 5:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 5:30am

Members of Hong Kong's tiny Ukrainian community made a public plea for their country to be left in peace yesterday, on one of the biggest days in the social calendar for the city's Russian speakers.

Some 38 Ukrainians and a handful of participants from Turkey, the United States and Canada took part in a two-hour rally in Queen's Road Central to protest against Russian involvement in the country.

Russian troops were deployed to Crimea after the ousting of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych last month.

"It was brilliant. I was so happy to meet so many other Ukrainians in Hong Kong," rally organiser Oksana Charlton said. "It was a very peaceful demonstration."

Charlton, who moved to Hong Kong with her English husband, said: "We had the flag and we wore flowers in our hair, which is tradition. Some people also wore the vyshyvka, our traditional Ukrainian shirt."

Despite the geopolitical hostility back home, Odessa-born Charlton said there was no talk of politics when she attended the Russian Ball in Causeway Bay last night.

The event is one of the biggest occasions on the social calendar for Hong Kong's Russian speakers, including many Ukrainians. The Russian consul general, Vladimir Kalinin, gave a speech at the ball but made no mention of Ukraine.

Charlton said organisers had asked her not to bring up the political situation, a request she honoured.

Earlier in the week, Charlton and a group of seven other Ukrainians handed a petition to the Russian consulate calling for a peaceful solution to the situation in their homeland.

Russia claims troops moved into Crimea to protect Russian citizens there, but the manoeuvre has led to concerns the region and areas of eastern Ukraine could secede.


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