VILNIUS – Vilnius joins a support for Ukraine campaign as two trolleybuses in the Lithuanian capital will carry adverts spreading the word about UNITED24, a fundraising platform launched by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine, and will help collect support for the country defending itself against Russia’s aggression.
Two trolleybuses running on routes 2 and 17 and decorated with the colors and symbols of the Ukrainian flag, will from Friday inform about the UNITED24 platform and invite people to donate to the country's defense, mine clearance, humanitarian, medical and reconstruction needs.
The people behind the campaign in the Lithuanian capital, Oleh Verbov and Vitaly Litvin, Ukrainian diplomats based in Vienna, told BNS that Vilnius was the first city to support this initiative.
"We launched the project back in Vienna with a tram that hit the streets in September. But this project of ours is about spreading the word about UNITED24, the fundraising platform initiated by our president. Vilnius is the first to promote it," Litvin said.
"We want this project to become an example for other capitals, because unfortunately, we were not able to get support for UNITED24 in Vienna because of the country's neutrality since the initiative collects funds, among other things, for military equipment, including drones and anti-drones. We think it’s not fair, but that's the reality," he added.
Verbov says the stylized triangles used to decorate the trolleybuses symbolize the seeds of Ukraine's national flower, the sunflower. These old symbols are also used elsewhere, for example, on the country's currency, the hryvnia, and link historical and modern design.
The trolleybuses will be driven by Irina Petrenko from Kyiv and Vladimir Sidarov from Kherson, both of whom fled to Vilnius from the war in Ukraine.
They told BNS they have so far received a lot of support from Vilnius residents traveling on their routes.
Zelensky launched UNITED24 in May. Funds raised are being transferred to the official accounts of the National Bank of Ukraine and allocated by assigned ministries to cover the most pressing needs.
According to the website of the platform, UNITED24 has already collected more than 200 million US dollars (more than 200 million euros) and its current balance exceeds 34 million US dollars (almost 35 million euros).