WINNIPEG – Tensions were high between Russians and Ukrainians during a Victory Day parade in Winnipeg.
Members of Winnipeg’s Russian community gathered at the Manitoba Legislative Building for the first time to honour the 69th anniversary of Victory Day, a holiday celebrated by Russians to mark their victory over the Nazis in the Second World War.
But the timing of the first parade in Winnipeg offended some Ukrainians because Russia and Ukraine are in the middle of a crisis after Putin annexed Crimea in March.
“In 69 years, not once in Winnipeg did they celebrate this. Why all of a sudden now would they want to celebrate this?” said Ukrainian Nazar Nazarenko.
Ukrainians held a counter-protest because of the timing and a black-and-orange ribbon Russians wore for the parade. The Saint George ribbons have been worn by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
“We’re really offended as a community that these ribbons are being worn,” said Ukrainian Ivan Marynovsky.
Some Russians who wore the ribbon said the symbolism of the ribbons is being misread.
“This ribbon is a symbol of people who fight in the war and who brought peace to Russia. This is the meaning of it, that’s it, nothing else. To say that wearing this I’m supporting what’s happening there, it’s totally wrong,” said Olga Lysenko, who was born in Russia.
After a confrontation, Ukrainians stayed back while the Russians marched in a parade to the cenotaph to lay flowers and hold a moment of silence for the lives lost during the war.
“We don’t have a grave here to come and remember them, so this is why it’s important to have this day to bring the flowers, to let our children and next generation know about it,” said Lysenko.
Members of Winnipeg’s Russian community said they hope to make the Victory Day parade an annual event.
© Shaw Media, 2014