Ukrainian Australians have staged a powerful protest, laying on the ground in a symbol of the murderous acts they say Russia’s president is responsible for.
Young protesters, wearing headbands reading “Putin, Killer”, laid down on a large Ukrainian flag near the G20 summit venue on Saturday, claiming Vladimir Putin had the blood of their compatriots and MH17 passengers on his hands.
Their bodies were draped with the flags of the nations that lost citizens when the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down in July, killing 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
They also said the president had to answer for the deaths of Ukrainians killed as a result of his support for pro-Russian separatists.
About 200 people attended the protest in Brisbane’s King George Square, as President Putin attended the first day of the G20 leaders summit.
Stefan Romaniw, president of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO), said the Russian leader should “get on his bike and go”.
“You are not part of the international community”, he yelled, urging G20 leaders to impose more sanctions on Russia.
“Mr Putin, you do not have a seat at that table but unfortunately some of the members of the G20 insisted.”
Protesters, some wearing traditional Ukrainian dress, also chanted “glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes” in Ukrainian.
AFUO spokesman Peter Schmiggle said a rival pro-Putin protest in Brisbane earlier in the day was probably funded by the Russian government.
“One of the great things about Australia is that people with all points of view get to make their views known in a democratic society but that’s the kind of society Putin objects to,” he told AAP.
“I say to the people who are pro-Putin, who are your backers? Are you paid by the Russian government? Where do get your money?
“I’d be asking questions about their legitimacy. We’re a strong community group, who are they?”
The protest was entirely peaceful and no one was arrested.