Ukrainians hold Dublin vigil in memory of Bucha dead

Kyiv’s ambassador to Ireland appeals for more strident measures against Russia

Julia Matiash and her husband Max fled their hometown of Bucha in Ukraine shortly after the Russian tanks arrived.

“I am 33. My life just started but [is now] a little bit destroyed. I have my life but I don’t have anything,” said Julia.

She a recalled looking at a military helicopter from her window and later, loading her car with their pets, a tent and sleeping bags. Max ultimately stayed to fight.

At the top of Grafton Street in Dublin on Tuesday evening, Julia and her sister Anastasiia, who has lived in Ireland for seven years, joined a circle of demonstrators sitting with hands bound behind their backs in memory of those found dead in their hometown.


The sisters describe a beautiful, forested town outside Kyiv whose fate has captured world headlines this week following the Russian withdrawal and the violence revealed in its wake. They are not worried about their property, only about their neighbours, and described efforts to contact them and check they are still alive.

“We are always on our phones,” said Anastasiia. “I saw all of these pictures [from Bucha] and knew because our friends sent us before everything went to the TV. I was so scared because I know that it’s real. I want that they show the full pictures.”

Some were on open display at Tuesday’s protest, attended by hundreds of people, mostly from Ukraine and draped in the now ubiquitous blue and yellow flags. The images were of hands bound in cloth and plastic; a body in a silo, another collapsed under a bicycle.

“This weekend Kyiv region was liberated and when Ukrainian government and people came to their cities they saw photos and videos,” the demonstration’s main speaker Anna Bazilo said. “They saw people lying on the streets, dead and murdered. These images will never leave our minds.”

Tougher measures

In the centre of the large circle lay a sign saying #Buchamassacre weighed down with candles, children’s toys and sweets. Placards read “Just Google Bucha”, “Expel Russian Spies”, “Stop Russian Killers”. The demonstration was not only about Bucha, but also a direct appeal for a boycott of Russian trade.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, appealed for tougher measures against Russia and spoke of her heartbreak at the images emerging from Bucha. “I can’t even imagine what we will see in Mariupol,” she said of the besieged city in the east, echoing widely held fears.

The Lithuanian ambassador to Ireland, Marijus Gudynas, expressed concern people may be getting too used to the war in Ukraine and appealed for them to rally. “If Ukrainian heroes didn’t get tired to fight for us, for their country but also for Europe, is it really fair for us to get tired?”

It is a creeping effect witnessed firsthand by Anna Krys from Kyiv who returned to live in Ireland following the breakout of war.

“I see it with my friends,” she said. “They are like, ‘okay, we are so tired of all this news, we want to switch it off’. But Ukrainians can’t turn it off.”

When asked to explain the importance of a consumer boycott on Russian made goods, she immediately describes the horror stories of Bucha and beyond.

“There are no kids now in Bucha,” she said becoming upset. “Kids were killed. Not just killed, horribly killed. It’s unbelievable; it’s something that doesn’t have to happen in the 21st century.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times