About 10,000 people marched in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv Sunday to demand the release of people arrested after clashes with pro-Russian activists earlier this month.
The protesters Sunday chanted “Free political prisoners” and “Long live Ukraine” as they marched through the city, considered to be a nationalist stronghold.
Six people were arrested in Lviv in connection with violence that took place on May 9 during a commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Ukrainian nationalists tried to sabotage the festivities, desecrating Soviet flags, trampling on a wreath that was to be laid at a military cemetery and clashing with pro-Russian demonstrators.
Following the clashes, Russian lawmakers passed a joint statement condemning the Ukrainian nationalist demonstrators in Lviv for attempting to disrupt the celebration of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany and demanding punishment for those responsible. The Ukrainian government expressed understanding of Russia’s sensitivity to the problem of extremism.
The May 9 violence in Lviv exposed deep divisions between Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, which largely believes the Soviet army was an army of liberators, and the Ukrainian-speaking west, where many believe it was an occupying force.