VILNIUS - A protest over sexual violence in Ukraine is being held outside the Russian Embassy in Vilnius on Wednesday.
The all-day action featuring information stands telling the stories of Ukrainian women who have suffered abuse is taking place on the eve of the Denim Day, a day dedicated to the prevention of sexual violence and to an education campaign, as well as to express support for victims of sexual violence and to underline that sexual violence cannot be justified.
Speaking with reporters in the square outside the embassy, named after murdered Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, Tadas Gudauskas, the initiator and organizer of the Denim Day in Lithuania, said that this year, the Denim Day's slogan is "There is still no excuse", and the goal is to stand in solidarity with all people of Ukraine.
"We cannot say that we only stand in solidarity with Ukrainian women because both men and women are subjected to sexual violence. And the purpose of the Denim Day is to say 'no' to sexual violence," Gutauskas said.
Placards displayed across the whole square outside the Russian Embassy feature images from Bucha, Irpin and other sites of civilian massacres carried out by Russia also, photos of dead bodies and destroyed buildings are accompanied by short stories of torture and murder.
They are the illustration of widespread reports of Ukrainian women and children being raped and tortured by Russian troops in Russian-occupied territories.
Ukrainian Oleksandr Ganzia attended the event with his grandson Emil. The man has been living in Lithuania for some time now and already has Lithuanian citizenship. He says this realistic exhibition reminds him of the pain of seeing "the horrible behavior of the Russian army".
"This is the real genocide in this country. It could be stopped by the Ukrainian army, with the bravery of the Ukrainian people. And, of course, we must help and support Ukraine," he said.
He also stressed that Ukraine needs not only such protests but also military and financial assistance. He thanked Lithuania and private initiatives for such assistance.
"We must act, time matters," he said.
The protest will take place the whole day, with more participants expected around 6 p.m., including several lawmakers representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.