A large demonstration took place outside Russia's embassy in Tallinn on Thursday afternoon, after Russia carried out a full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine. A protest also took place in Tartu.
Several hundred protesters took to the cobbled streets of the old town, holding homemade posters and placards in a show of solidarity with Ukraine, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported on Thursday evening.
One protester Natalya, a Ukrainian national living in Estonia, told AK she had family in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which came under attack Thursday.
Natalya said her mother, mother-in-law, aunt and brother were: "Right now sitting, watching the news, praying to God and hearing the nearby firing. Kharkiv is already surrounded, and Russia is beginning to invade Kharkiv the city, which is close to the Russian border."
She hoped Estonia would remain behind Ukraine throughout.
Natalya also said she was aware that many ordinary Russians opposed the attack, noting that protest could mean arrest, however.
Another Ukrainian national, Vladislav interviewed by AK who has lived in Estonia for three years, said all his relatives and many friends live in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus, and were now fearful and waiting for news.
"This war is completely pointless, unnecessary, and it seems to me that many Ukrainians had hoped that everything would end with, at the most, intimidation," he said.
"Noone wanted this, except most likely Putin. We want the conflict to end as soon as possible and with as few casualties as possible."
Another protester, 13-year-old Hiie, said she: "Came to do the right thing. I don't want to see on TV how very young people have to die and suffer. I want an easier way to solve these problems."
Tallinn resident Kayla Lahti attended the protest on Pikk street and told ERR News approximately 200 people had attended the gathering, which coincided with Estonia's 104th independence anniversary.
Protesters against Russia's invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian embassy in Tallinn. Coincidently today is Estonia's independence day. pic.twitter.com/aE48sHtLdY— Kayla Lahti (@klahti) February 24, 2022
On Thursday, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) also stepped up patrols in the areas close to the Russian embassy, as well as the Belarusian embassy in Tallinn.
The original AK clip (in Estonian) is here.
Large-scale protests against the invasion also took place across the world, including in Russia where protesting is essentially banded. Hundreds of protesters were arrested.
Tartu residents protest to support Ukraine
A protest was also held in Estonia's second city Tartu.
Residents of the southern city came to the demonstration on Raekoja plats in front of the Town Hall and icerink waving yellow and blue Ukrainian flags, with painted faces and holding placards.
Some of the signs read "No war in Ukraine", "[The] Russian government is killing us! Where will they stop?", "NO USSR 2.0! Save Ukraine!"
PhD student Imar Koutchoukali attended the event and told ERR News: "The reason why I joined is that I strongly believe in the principles and value of liberal democracy and that this is something we should actively strive to maintain."
Taking cover in metro stations
U.K. national Stephen Hogg, who is an ex-resident of Estonia and now lives in Kharkiv, told ERR News on Thursday he woke up to the sound of shelling and headed to a nearby Metro station, many of which are being used as shelters.
A large line of people formed up outside pharmacies, ahead of the 9 a.m. opening time, he added.
"We then went home for a couple of hours, then came the next explosion. So, we headed for the Metro station once again; there was a considerably louder explosion as we were arriving," Hogg said.
"The Metro trains finally stopped running, which allowed us to sit on stationary units, which was a welcome relief, and we may end up sleeping here," Hogg continued.
"This morning, there were very few people at the Metro station, whereas now, both train units and all platforms are packed out."
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright