A rally of Ukrainians, accompanied by local activists, was held on Sunday morning July 31, 2022, against the presence of the Russian frigate « Shtandart » in the port of Bilbao. Among other things, the demonstrators accuse Shtandart of:
- violating the 5th package of European sanctions,
- falsely claiming to be an opponent to Putin’s regime,
- promoting the Russian flag, symbol of the worst crimes committed on European soil since 1945,
- being an element of the Russian propaganda and « soft power »,
- creating a diversion from the war.
Moreover, Ukrainians do not accept this ship’s manipulation of humanitarian aid for the victims of the Russian war in Ukraine. Likewise, they rebel against the fiction promoted by the captain, Vladimir Martus, according to which he claims to be « persecuted » by Kremlin in, as he says, the same way Ukrainians are persecuted by Kremlin. While Ukrainians are victims of a genocide carried out by the Russian army, Vladimir Martus’ statement is received with utterly disgust.
The Bilbao event was part of the international mobilization « No Shtandart in Europe » under the slogan: « Shtandart hors d’Espagne ! Shtandart fuera de Francia ! ».
Indeed, on July 27, 2022, the Association of the Ukrainians of Galicia-Girasol filed a complaint against the captaincy of Vigo for violation of European sanctions, due to the reception of the Shtandart from July 22 to 27. Though, the Russian ship was isolated in a place closed to the public. Indeed, the demonstration of July 22, 2022, and the delivery, on July 13, 2002, of a letter, signed by 46 personalities and organizations from Spain, Ukraine, France and Belgium, to seven authorities of Galicia and Vigo as well as Galicia already enlghted the strong international disapproval. They kept the Russian ship excluded from its participation in the maritime festival of the Ruta Iacobus Maris, which had motivated its arrival on July 23, 2022.
The surprise stopover of the Shtandart in Bilbao, on 30 to July 31, 2022, is probably linked to the cancellation of the A Coruña stopover as a result of the movements in Galicia. It is obvious that the activists will not accept the San Sebastian/Donostia stopover planed on the Shtandart’s program.
In France since June 22, Shtandart has been prohibited from displaying the Russian flag in French ports, as it was observed in Douarnenez and in La Rochelle. Since this date, during its visits to La Rochelle, the Russian frigate has been concealed in a place inaccessible to the public, whereas previously it was exhibited in the center of the city. Oleh Sentsov and Roman Sushchenko, former Kremlin political prisoners, sent a letter to the Prime Minister of France on July 8, 2022, asking her to end the unjustifiable derogation allowing Shtandart to circumvent the 5th package of European sanctions against Russia. The letter was jointly signed by 33 personalities and organizations of the Ukrainian community in France.
In Ukraine, on June 25, 2022, the Russian frigate Shtandart was denounced to the Ukrainian presidential administration and the Yermak-McFaul Commission for its repeated violations of the sanctions.It was demanded to end this exception through diplomatic channels with France and Spain.
On June 16, 2022, Oleksiy Goncharenko, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada and a member of Ukraine’s permanent parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe, wrote to the mayor of La Rochelle to request that the Russian ship Shtandart no longer be allowed to dock in this port in application of European sanctions. He pointed out his concern about the fact that humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees in this city is under the control of a pro-Shtandart faction that exerts pressure and blackmail against Ukrainians living in this town.
His excellency, M. Vadym Omelchenko, Ukrainian ambassador to France, got in touch with the prefect of Charente-Maritime expressing his disapproval of the « Potemkin » association, « Aidons l’Ukraine 17 », a pompous term for a lobby of a few people, without any legitimacy, promoting Shtandart and threatening Ukrainians in La Rochelle.
The first demonstration against the Russian Frigate Shtandart took place on June 12, 2022, in La Rochelle.