INGE HANSEN and HANNAH SBEGHEN
About 200 people stood defiantly in the searing Brisbane heat yesterday afternoon, determined to protest Russian President Vladmir Putin’s presence in the city.
Ukrainian Australian and other anti-Putin protesters took to the street, angry Australia has rolled out the welcome mat for the President despite Russia’s involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which killed nearly 300 people, and the ongoing bloody separatist battle in Ukraine.
But the rally could have been even bigger had it not been for motorcades for both the Mexican and Brazilian leaders.
Motorcade roadblocks left a number of frustrated and disappointed protesters on the wrong side of the road, meaning they were forced to miss the gathering on the other side of the fence.
Ukrainian Australians, Taras Alemin and Olga Pak stood 100 metres away from the rally, unable to reach the protest at King George Square but this didn’t stop them voicing their objections to Putin’s presence.
“We’re protesting against the war in Ukraine,” Mr Alemin said.
“We have whole families in Ukraine and we don’t think there’s been enough coverage outside Ukraine and a lot of people are dying.”
Public Affairs Director of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations Peter Shmigel said the protest sends out a message to democratic Australia that Putin’s arrival is a “slap in the face.”
“We have a lot of support from Australian’s from different backgrounds,” he said.
“There are a lot of Australian’s across the spectrum who are concerned about his presence.”
Protester Taras Alemin expressed his frustration over President Putin’s leadership.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Putin or whoever is causing this, it needs to be stoppe