War in Ukraine: Leeds city centre protest calls for end to conflict - live updates

Protestors are staging a rally and march in Leeds city centre on Sunday lunchtime to call for an end to the war in Ukraine.

By Tony Gardner
Sunday, 6th March 2022, 2:25 pm

Around 500 people gathered in Briggate before marching on to Leeds Town Hall for speeches. Follow our live blog below and refresh the page for the latest updates.

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A crowd of around 500 people gather on the steps of Leeds Town Hall to call for an end to the war in Ukraine.

Leeds protestors call for end to war in Ukraine - live updates

Last updated: Sunday, 06 March, 2022, 15:03

Leeds protest now starting to wind up

Two hours after they first gathered on Briggate, those who marched through Leeds city centre in protest at the war in Ukraine are now beginning to disperse.

Leeds is not the only place to have seen protests today, with hundreds also gathered in central London to protest his invasion of Ukraine.

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

Campaigners gathered outside the BBC's Broadcasting House to wave signs saying "Russian troops out" and "No Nato Expansion".

The march was held by the Stop the War Coalition, as well as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the No to Nato network, and CODEPINK.

Protesters chanted "Stop the war" and "Russian troops out now" as they began their march through the centre of the capital.

Speakers were due to address the crowd at Trafalgar Square this afternoon.

‘Refugees are welcome here'

A member of the Extinction Rebellion group is now at the mic, leading those left outside the town hall in a song: “Sing it loud and sing it clear. Refugees are welcome here.”

Solidarity with ‘brave protestors in Russia'

Steve Johnson, of Unite Community, is now speaking. He says: “We stand shoulder to shoulder to the brave protestors in Russia.”

Russian authorities are continuing to block independent news outlets and arrest protesters there in an effort to tighten control over what information its domestic audience sees about the invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the efforts to tightly control the narrative, Russians all across the country have spoken out against the war.

Tens of thousands have signed open letters and online petitions demanding to stop it, and street protests in dozens of Russian cities have been happening almost daily since the attack began on February 24 - always followed by mass detentions.

On Sunday, protests spanned from Siberia to St Petersburg, with dozens of Russians taking to the streets in different cities.

According to OVD-Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests, a total of 1,558 people were detained in 43 Russian cities on Sunday, part of nearly 10,000 people detained since February 24.

Statement read on behalf of Leeds MP

A message has been read out on behalf of Labour MP Richard Burgon, who represents Leeds East.

In the statement, he said: “We need to raise our voices to demand global action and demand a world free of war.”

‘The support in Leeds has been amazing'

Addressing the crowd now is Polina Merkulova, of Feminist Anti-War Resistance.

She says: “The support in Leeds has been amazing as can be seen from the turnout today.”

Here’s a reminder of some of the ways that people in the city have shown their support:

People in Leeds are paying for accommodation in Ukraine to help their people - these two got a reply

People in Leeds are paying for AirB&B accommodation to help the people of Ukraine - with two thoughtful Farsley residents getting a response.

'Together we stand': Leeds-based bar group bans all Russian drinks from its venues in show of solidarity for Ukraine

A Leeds-based bar group has banned all Russian products and drinks from its venues across the country in a show of solidarity for the people of Ukraine.

Here is how the people of Leeds can help support Ukrainians through donations

There are several community centres and charities accepting donations for Ukraine.

‘ We all need to be united'

Next to speak at the anti-war protest is Richard Wilson, of Leeds for Europe.

He tells the crowd gathered: “We need to be going harder with the sanctions to end this peacefully. Our government needs to do more.

“We all need to be united to defeat this evil.”

‘Peace to the heroic people of Ukraine'

Colin Archer, of Leeds CND, is the first to address the crowd now gathered outside Leeds Town Hall.

He says: “Peace to the heroic people of Ukraine. Putin, withdraw your troops now.”

Ukrainian authorities trying to evacuate Mariupol

While the protest is taking place here in Leeds, Ukrainian authorities are making a second attempt to evacuate civilians from a southern city pounded by a week-long Russian attack.

Evacuations from the port city of Mariupol were scheduled to take place during a 10am to 9pm local ceasefire on Sunday, Ukrainian military authorities said.

But a similar ceasefire planned in the city and in Volnovakha nearby collapsed within hours on Saturday, trapping women, children and older men under more shelling and aerial bombardment by Russian forces.

The revived ceasefire announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and a Russian-speaking member of his Cabinet travelled to Moscow and spoke with Ukraine's president in hopes of brokering a broader deal to stop the fighting, now in its 11th day.

Why these protestors have joined today’s rally in Leeds

Here’s some of the protestors telling us why they have chosen to take part today:

Crowd of around 500 people gathers at town hall

Our reporter Tony Gardner is in the city centre where the march has now reached the town hall. He estimates that there are now around 500 gathered there.

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