WASHINGTON — Protesters gathered outside the U.S. Russian embassy and in downtown Washington, D.C. on Sunday to voice their opposition to Russia’s intervention into Ukrainian territory.
Approximately 100 people gathered outside the embassy, with many people carrying signs that transposed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face with dictator Joseph Stalin’s. One woman, draped in a Ukrainian flag, carried a sign that read “Putin=Hitler.” The crowd chanted “Putin Out,” “No War” and other slogans to let their opinion on Russia’s actions stand loud and clear.
The vast majority of protesters were those with ties to former Soviet republics. Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Estonian and other former Soviet republic flags decorated the protest.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. and Lithuanian’s Ambassador both spoke at the rally in downtown D.C. and condemned Russia’s action into Ukraine.
“We all know that Russia committed an incredible act of aggression towards Ukraine,” Olexander Motsyk declared to the assembled crowd.
Lithuanian’s ambassador, Žygimantas Pavilionis, stated that Russia needs to pay a price for its invasion of Ukraine and suggested Putin and other top Russian officials deserve placement on the Magnitsky List, which would prevent them from traveling to the U.S. and using American banking institutions.
“We’ve learned from history that those kind of Russian actions deliberate their own people and finish with grave tragedies for the countries that surround Russia and for Russia itself. Well, let’s not be naive — Russians pay their own price for the autocracy that’s been ruling them,” Pavilionis told the Daily Caller in an interview following his speech.
The Lithuanian official believes that a strong, immediate response can be dealt to Russia through diplomatic means.
“You start with political dialogue — we should simply delete Russia from all honorable participations, from the G-8 to some other big meetings that they pretend to be apart of,” Pavilionis suggested.
Deimante, a Lithuanian woman with a Putin/Stalin sign, believes that there are some definite similarities between the brutal, Soviet dictator and the current Russian president.
“We think that Putin is so much like Stalin because his dream is to restore the Soviet Union, including with all of the countries that have been in the Soviet Union, and we want to stop that dream of Putin,” Deimante said.
Conservative activist and Lithuanian-American Gabriella Hoffman joined the protests, and wants the U.S. to take a stronger stance towards Russia than the current policy has President Barack Obama has maintained towards the world’s largest country.
“I suppose if our government was smart to support our allies, they would issue a statement condemning the Russian invasion of a sovereign country like Ukraine and say that we stand with our allies, but we shouldn’t expect Obama or anyone in the state department to do that,” Hoffman said.
A protester of Ukrainian origin believed that the invasion was a direct violation of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and that Russian troops should leave the nation immediately, but didn’t expect the United States to get involved militarily in the conflict. He believed the U.S. and the West should stick to economic sanctions in response to Russia.
“I can’t envision the United States moving troops anywhere into Ukraine… I think it would be more effective to not make any provocations and not provoke bloodshed and violence, but impose economic sanctions,” Artem Kornynko commented.