Students, staff and residents braved bitter weather in a march from Sidgwick Site to Castle MoundVarsity

Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, told students and staff “Cambridge has always been a city of sanctuary” and that “we are European to our core” at a march in support of Ukraine yesterday afternoon (5/3).

The march began at Sidgwick site, where the MP gave a speech on the importance of uniting politically against Russia. Zeichner went on to say that “the government has more to do” and that Cambridge must “welcome refugees”.

Students, academics and residents then marched down King’s Parade, across Magdalene Bridge and up to Castle Mound. Andrii, who was one of the march’s leaders, said “we are speaking with our words and speaking with our walks.”

Though the organisers told crowds they hoped the rain would hold out, soon after the march began the bitter wind and rain picked up and a few attendees trailed off before reaching Castle Mound. A protester remarked that although the weather was bleak, “it’s nothing compared to what everyone back in Ukraine is experiencing.”

As they marched, different chants in Ukrainian broke out, including “Stand with Ukraine,” “Stop Putin, Stop the War” and “Slava Ukraini!” Many people wore blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, and held signs like “Visas For Refugees” and “Putin = Hitler.”

The group gathered at the base of Castle Mound to hear speeches from the march’s organisers, as well as various academics. Children stood on top of Castle Mound throughout, waving Ukrainian flags.

Dr Rory Finnin, who launched the Ukrainian studies program at Cambridge, brought his young son up on stage to join the call and response of Slava Ukraini!”. Finnin then asked the crowd to petition their MPs to deliver visas for Ukrainian refugees, and expressed pride in his students, some of whom have been translating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speeches into English for the New York Times.

Though the weather was bleak, one protester remarked that "it's nothing compared to what everyone back in Ukraine is experiencing"Lily Isaacs

A third-year mathematician from Trinity, Arsenii Nikolaiev, spoke on what it felt like to be born in Russia and later move to Ukraine, and how painful that split felt now.

He said he’s getting more and more used to giving speeches like this: “it’s more important to deliver these messages than being scared that five hundred people are listening to you.

“The Information war is still going on, we’re not going to stop or get tired because it’s been ten days since the war started, we’re going to keep doing stuff every day.”

A Ukrainian opera singer expressed her heartbreak for her family still in Ukraine. “I just want them to be safe, I need them here with me.” One protester shouted “shame” as she discussed how the UK’s strict visa policies were stopping Ukranians from finding safety.

As more than a million Ukranians have already fled the country, marchers called for the UK visa program to be widened to include those without family in the country. A poster about the visa program asked: “what if it’s you next?”


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Even as the rain and wind intensified, those gathered joined in as the opera singer ended the rally with a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem. Earlier in the march, a woman had been handing out translated versions of the anthem so that English speakers would sing along.

Andrii, one of the organisers of the march, said he was still surprised every time he saw this show of solidarity for his country:

“We got so much support today, that it was clear that the students and people of Cambridge care about this, and you know, from the very beginning, that first day, we only expected ten people to come out, and now, well you can just look around and see.”