Why Leeds is a city united in solidarity against Putin's war in Ukraine - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

The raw sense of a mother’s grief was palpable for the whole world to see.

By Laura Collins
Monday, 7th March 2022, 9:34 am

Marina Yatsko uncontrollably sobbed while she was comforted by her partner as the doctors who tried to save her young son’s life struggled to contain their own emotion as her boy lost his battle for life.

The grieving mother had just one word she wailed repeatedly as her precious 18-month-old son Kirill was killed in the shelling of Ukrainian city Mapriupol.

And that word is uttered - not only by Marina - but by so many people caught up in the conflict with the simple question of “why”?

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Protestors gathered in Leeds at the weekend to call for an end to the war in Ukraine. Pic: Simon Hulme

Marina’s story is just one of countless others the world has borne witness to as the sheer horror of Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine as Putin continues his reign of terror.

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With the advances in technology reports from the frontline are hard to avoid - they are dominating news reports across all platforms and social media feeds in a way like never before.

Over the last week we have all witnessed some incredible bravery from the journalists caught up in Ukraine who are working hard to wage their own war against misinformation.

The information battle comes as global news media warned last week they were temporarily suspending reporting in Russia to protect their own journalists after a new law was passed threatening jail terms for spreading “fake news”.

Among the carefully controlled state messages the Kremlin objects to the conflict being called a war, instead calling it a “special military operation”.

Independent journalism is crucial for democracy to not only survive but to thrive - and silencing the messenger is not the answer.

But it is with these advances in reporting technology and the access to social media that the world has had its eyes opened to what life is like on the ground for those caught up in the vicious shelling in Ukraine.

And it is this extraordinary insight that has captured the hearts of so many people who have felt compelled to help Ukrainians in any way possible.

Just look at the scenes in Leeds over the weekend as hundreds of protestors gathered in Briggate before marching on to Leeds Town Hall calling for an end to the war.

Some members of the crowd, including expats from Russia, Poland and Lithuania, wept as they voiced their support for people affected by the conflict.

Their show of solidarity comes as volunteers organising a mammoth collection of supplies for Ukrainian refugees say they have never seen Leeds “so united.”

They have been working around the clock to send three trucks full of clothes, toiletries, blankets, nappies and other vital items are being sent to the frontline of a growing humanitarian crisis on the Polish border.

It comes as the Prime Minister said as he warned world leaders: “We need to prepare now for even darker days ahead.”

And that show of solidarity will be needed more than ever as this desperately tragic humanitarian crisis continues to unfold on a global stage.

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