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BERN, March 15 /TASS/. Opponents of the Kiev government’s security operation in Donbas coming from the German-speaking, French-speaking and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland held their first joint anti-war rally in Bern.
"Today, we are protesting against the war and simultaneously celebrating the first anniversary of Crimea’s re-unification with Russia," said Maxim, the manifestation’s coordinator who had come from the German-speaking Zurich.
"If it had not been for the Crimean referendum, what is now going on in Donbas would have happened in Crimea," Maxim told TASS.
About 30 demonstrators gathered at one of Bern’s central squares approximately 300 meters away from the Federal Palace, the seat of the Swiss government and parliament. The flags of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, Novorossiya, Switzerland and Russia were waving in the breeze. The demonstrators took turns to say what they thought about the events in Donbas in English and German. They demanded from the Kiev authorities to end terror.
The participants in the rally include natives of Ukraine, citizens of Switzerland and Russia as well as a group of anti-fascists from Germany who unwrapped a huge banner.
The Swiss authorities had authorized the manifestation and provided a very convenient venue and time for the gathering - from midday till 14:00 in the afternoon. On a sunny spring day the square was crowded. The citizens of Bern and tourists watched what was going on the square with interest. Some had a live discussion with the demonstrators.
The numerous posters carried slogans in German and French: "Ukrainian army kills its own citizens!," "A bad compromise is better than "good" war!", "Kiev’s anti-terror operation is terror against civilian population!", "No to NATO’s expansion to the east!", "OSCE-yes, NATO -no!", "Long Live OSCE!".
"We are trying to tell the truth about the events in Donbas because the local press does not show an objective picture of what’s going on there," Maxim said. "Until recently, we used to organize separate protests in our cities - Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Montreux and Bellincone. We held simultaneous coordinated actions in three cities on February 28. Now, we decided to gather together to make our voice better heard," Maxim went on to say.
He explained that from 20 to 70 people usually take part in such rallies. One of the most successful manifestations was organized in Zurich during the January visit of Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko. He was "welcomed" both in the street and inside the university immediately prior to his speech. Thanks to our manifestation covered by the press the local public learnt about an alternative point of view on Kiev’s war in Donbas.
Several participants in Saturday’s manifestation in Bern had arrived from the French-speaking cantons. Their coordinator Svetlana told Tass that Kiev’s operation in eastern Ukraine was more than an aggression. "It is a policy of despotism against which we are protesting. We want to carry the truth to people and show the true face of those who unleashed that war. People from various parts of the country have come to Bern. The idea came to our mind two months ago. We got in touch with each other by phone. And so we are here. We are united by one single goal to end the war," Svetlana said.
The Swiss pacifists intend to continue their cause. The next anti-war rallies are scheduled for May. Concurrently, the anti-war activists have launched a campaign to collect relief aid for the children of Donbas.