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Foreign minister, ambassador address pro-Ukraine event in Helsinki

After ecumenical prayers on the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral, a pro-Ukraine demonstration took place at Senate Square.

Ihmiset kantavat valtavan kokoista Ukrainan lippua Tuomiokirkon portailla.
Members of the Ukrainian Association held a large Ukrainian flag banner on the steps of the Cathedral during preparations for the event. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle
Yle News

On Easter Monday, Helsinki's Senate Square hosted prayers and a demonstration for peace in Ukraine. The event was streamed live on Yle Areena.

A moment of ecumenical prayers for peace was held on the steps of the cathedral, organised by the Helsinki's Evangelical Lutheran congregations, the Helsinki Orthodox Church, the Finnish Catholic Church and the Helsinki Ecumenical Council.

Archbishop Leo of Finland's state-supported Orthodox Church has condemned the "evil war" and urged his counterpart at the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to stop supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

The event began at noon with processions arriving from various parishes around the city. By then Senate Square was full of people.

The prayer session started with the ringing of peace bells, with the Cathedral bells joined by those of churches of various denominations around Helsinki. The Cantores Minores Choir and the St. Andrew's Orthodox Youth Choir performed at the event.

After the prayers, at about 12:30 pm, a demonstration began on the Senate Square to call for stronger support for Ukraine, organised by the Ukrainian Association in Finland.

Dibrova, Haavisto speak

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green), Ukrainian Ambassador to Finland Olga Dibrova and Helsinki Deputy Mayor Daniel Sazonov (NCP) were among the speakers at the event. Singer Maija Vilkkumaa performed Finlandia by Jean Sibelius (1899) with lyrics adapted for Ukraine, and singer Elias Gould also performed.

"Contra Spem Spero" ("Against all Hope I Hope," 1890), by the Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka (1871-1913), was also recited in Finnish and Ukrainian.

As the event ended, demonstrators carried a giant Ukrainian flag banner across the steps of the Cathedral and into the crowd. Police said around 1:30pm that thousands had taken part in the event, which passed off peacefully.

The cathedral was completed in 1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, during the 108-year Russian rule of Finland.

Like Good Friday, Easter Monday is a national holiday, with most offices and many shops closed.

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