Protesters in Kyiv have demanded a redirection of funds from municipal projects to the military, expressing concern over perceived wasteful spending by city officials amid the country’s ongoing war with Russia.
In a stark display of discontent, hundreds of protestors, aggrieved by what they perceive as extravagant expenditure by municipal authorities, convened outside Kyiv City Hall on Thursday.
Protesters demonstrated concern that funds have been put forward for local projects rather than bolstering Ukraine’s stance against Russia.
The demonstration, orchestrated by the Money for the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) civic group, emerged in response to what they decry as “unnecessary” and “poorly timed” spending by the Kyiv City Council – an issue gaining prominence since the group’s inception in September.
Undeterred by multiple air alerts and inclement weather, predominantly youthful demonstrators voiced their dissent, disbanding only when air defence systems engaged to repel a potential missile attack.
Chants reverberated through the crowd, proclaiming, “It’s better to buy drones than build a new park,” and stressing the belief that allocating more funds to the military hastens Ukraine’s victory in the ongoing conflict.
Kateryna Zaderey, a protester, explained, “At a time when our friends, parents, and acquaintances are dying at the front, we have more pressing matters than rebuilding roads and beautifying parks,” her words illustrating the prevailing sentiment among the demonstrators.
In the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, street protests in Ukraine had been infrequent, given the constant threat of bombardment.
Recent months have witnessed a surge in demonstrations, though, with Thursday’s protest marking the most substantial outcry against municipal expenditure thus far.
Corruption within Kyiv’s municipal administration, an existing concern predating the war, has further exacerbated matters.
Allegations of corruption persist as Ukraine receives substantial financial backing from Western nations for its war efforts, posing a challenge to the nation’s aspirations of joining the European Union.
Public outrage peaked in June following a missile attack that claimed three lives, highlighting the inadequate state of the city’s bomb shelters and prompting criticism of Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko.
Subsequent investigations unveiled mismanagement of funds allocated for bomb shelter repair and maintenance, including questionable expenses such as leather drums for children’s “psychological relief” during air raids.
Recent protests underscore citizens’ discontent with the allocation of millions for city maintenance and infrastructure projects, funds protestors argue should be redirected to fortify the Ukrainian military.
Attempting to quell discontent, Klitschko announced during Thursday’s city council meeting that an additional 600 million UAH (€14.7 million) would be allocated for military needs, supplementing the 7 billion UAH (€172.6 million) already designated for the military in 2023.