by Katherine Renton
Businessman Stephen Russell who has undertaken to fly the Ukrainian flag from their family’s building in Stoney Ground as a show of solidarity with the besieged country says he will fly it until the people are free.
Not deterred by the lack of Ukrainian flags available in the country, Russell had one made and has been flying the symbol since March 1. This was less than a week after Russia began a large scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a conflict that is still raging and resulting in mass evacuation.
“I put the flag up because I wanted to support and sympathise and be in solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” Russell told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, March 9. The band of blue in the flag represents the sky, mountain and streams while the yellow represents the wheat fields of the country.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin has said that what he called the “special military operation” was to “denazify” Ukraine.
Russell begs to differ.
“I think in the 21st century we really don’t need thugs and criminals and evil people like Putin anymore and it’s about democracy and it’s about the rule of law and he has no right to go in to Ukraine,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful country, it’s a democratic country,” he added, confirming that he supports Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky has chosen to remain in Ukraine and has reportedly survived numerous assassination attempts on his life as he continues to lead the Ukraine military resistance.
“I’m tired of people like Putin,” Russell commented. “…If I could go and fight I would. I would exactly go and take up arms,” he said, in order to oust the Russian President.
He also noted that he looks at the news every day, “I see the wanton destruction and it hurts me to see what’s been happening to the people there.”
“I get up in the middle of the night and put the TV on to see how many more people are killed,” he said.
In response to a query, Russell noted, “I’m gonna fly the flag until the Ukrainians are free. I’ll fly another flag – if there’s another conflict and I think one side is wrong I’ll fly that flag too.”
He explained that if China invades Taiwan, he would fly the Taiwanese flag.
“Any sort of injustice. I can’t stand injustice now I don’t understand, we live in a world where people still allow injustices to happen all over the world. It’s crazy and it’s evil. And I think the time for evilness is over,” Russell concluded.
He has friends from Ukraine, having met them both here in St Vincent and abroad during study. Russell disclosed, “I feel for them because I know they have families and I know what it’s like,” explaining “there’s no electricity, in some areas there’s no water, there’s no access to food, they can’t leave because they’re boxed in. It’s a dreadful life…”
“…it’s like hell. And why should people go through this kind of hell because of one sick fella sitting in the Kremlin?” he questioned.
When asked about the persons here who may feel that the conflict has nothing to do with SVG, he replied: “We live in a global village – everything concerns us.”
And, he echoed predictions that the price of oil and gasoline will rise and the world economy will take a hit.
“We’re very much a part of the world community. And we were on the (United Nations) Security Council. We’re involved in making decisions that affect countries all around the world so I mean to say that it’s not our concern – it’s rubbish,” he concluded.