More than a hundred people took part in "Fair Play For Strays" demonstration to defend stray animals in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Saturday (March 31).
It was held in the framework of the pan-European initiative where rallies to protect stray animals were staged in several countrues. But in Ukraine the demonstartion became more poignant as it focused on the brutal murder of stray animals ahead of the Euro 2012 soccer championship which is widespread, according to action organisers.
People with posters and with dogs running next to them marched down the street in central Kiev chanting "We Say 'No'! Boycott to bloody Euro! The Championship will not walk on dead bodies of stray dogs!"
Animal rights activists say mass killings of stray animals took place across Ukraine in the recent months as part of preparations for the Euro 2012.
"This dog used to live in a pack in the city centre, at Podol (Kiev district). The whole pack was shot. Only two dogs, who were shot in the back, survived. She (dog) has a bullet in her spine, she had a surgery, but she could not walk anymore," said rally participant Nastya Glazun, pointing at one of her two crippled dogs, which both had wheels attached to their bodies instead of back legs.
Protesters released black balloons into the air near one of the many monitors showing the countdown to the Euro 2012 and moved to central Independence square to rally there.
"Look at how many people came here today. This shows that our people are not cruel, our people want to solve this problem in a humanitarian way and the delay is only due to the government, to (the lack of) the political will of our government. This is not such a big problem like gas or finance or economy, this can be solved quickly, effectively and in a humane way. But to do so there needs to be a political will. And we do not see such will," head of the Ukrainian Association of Animal Rights Organisations, Asya Serpinskaya, told Reuters.
Animal rights activists have already called on the Ukrainian authorities to cancel the Euro 2012 football championships if the stray animals' slaughter in the country is not stopped. The protesters on Saturday demanded President Viktor Yanukovich to take some action and to stop the killings, which had already provoked a harsh reaction from international ecology and animal rights organisations.