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Thousands join Helsinki march in support of Ukraine

The event’s Facebook page reopened after being hit by cyberattacks, which are under investigation by police.

Rauhankulkue Ukrainan puolesta Helsingissä
Rauhankulkue Ukrainan puolesta Helsingissä
Yle News

Police said that some 4,000 people took part in a demonstration in support of Ukraine in Helsinki on Saturday.

The 'Mothers for Peace' event started at noon with a speech by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Finland, Olga Dibrova, in front of Parliament House. She thanked the Finnish people for their support and donations, and Finnish lawmakers for making "brave decisions".

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Crowds held Ukrainian flags and anti-war signs at Senate Square on Saturday. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Also appearing were author Laura Lindstedt, who read a poem by Eeva Kilpi, and the Tapiola Choir, which performed songs by Arvo Pärt and Jean Sibelius.

Police estimated that there were at least 2,000 people outside the Parliament building, and warned of brief disruptions to traffic.

The peace march began around 12.30, proceeding along Mannerheimintie via Aleksanterinkatu to Senate Square, along the way joining another march by Ukrainians living in Finland. A police convoy secured the route.

At Senate Square, the event's announcer was journalist Baba Lybeck. Artists such as Tommy Lindgren, BESS, Andrei, Linda Fredriksson and Jarmo Saari were to perform on the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral.

Hacking may have boosted support

The event’s Facebook page had to close the pages after being hacked, but later re-opened. Police are investigating the interference.

The hacking of the Facebook group raised attention and eventually increased support for the event, said one of the organisers, Susanna Makaroff. The organisers had expected up to 10,000 people to attend, in line with a previous Ukraine march on 26 February.

"The trolls may have thought that they had won, but in the end, a lot of people were angered, and we'll probably get an even bigger event. While we get to show support and compassion for the Ukrainians, we can also show resistance against these counter-forces," she told Yle on Thursday.

"When the war started, I couldn't help but think of my four sons who are of military service age. When Susanna asked me to take part in organising the event, I did not hesitate for a moment," said co-organiser Reetta Rajala.

The two expressed the hope that Mothers for Peace would become an international movement.

The non-aligned event was backed by NGOs including the Finnish Refugee Council, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, the Peace Union of Finland, the Finnish Peace Committee, the Committee of 100 in Finland and the Union of Conscientious Objectors.

Yle will broadcast a benefit concert for Ukraine beginning at 6.30 pm via Radio Suomi, TV1 and Areena. It will also be broadcast on TV in Ukraine. Performers include Anna Puu, Haloo Helsinki, Paleface, Maija Vilkkumaa, Olavi Uusivirta, Robin Packalen and Katri Helena.

To be updated.

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