9 July 2023

Police investigating after protester 'got overly enthusiastic', flung dead possum into Russian Embassy

| James Coleman
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Ukraine protest

Protestors have been a constant presence outside the Russian Embassy on Canberra Avenue since the war began on 24 February 2022. Photo: John Coleman.

Police are on the case of a dead possum that was hurled over the fence of the Russian Embassy last week.

It’s unlikely the animal’s death will ever be avenged, but the group of protesters that meet regularly outside the diplomatic compound on Canberra Avenue have conceded it could have been one of them.

“I personally didn’t see it,” says Marusya Jacyshyn, one of the coordinators for Friends of Ukraine.

“My understanding was that some passionate person moved away from the main rally, got overly enthusiastic and did something very foolish.”

ACT Policing received a report in early June “of an incident where a dead possum was allegedly thrown into a premises on Canberra Avenue”.

“Police understand the alleged incident occurred on Saturday, 3 June, and are investigating the circumstances of the incident, including what offences may have been committed,” a spokesperson said.

It’s understood the possum was found dead on the site rather than killed or brought in from elsewhere for the purpose.

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Marusya and the other coordinators don’t condone what happened, describing it as “counterproductive at best”.

“We’ve done as much as we can by reminding people that this is not acceptable behaviour,” she says.

But the group has also responded to the allegations made by Russian ambassador Aleksey Pavlovsky, asking him to “show the same concern for Ukrainians”.

“We draw Ambassador Pavlovsky’s attention to the brutal war in Ukraine and also the undermining of the Kakhovka Dam when many animals were drowned and maimed, not to mention all the things happening to people there.”

In the early hours of 6 June, a major dam at the south of the country was destroyed by a series of explosions, flooding vast swathes of villages and farmland. Russia denied any involvement, but the United Nations wasn’t so convinced and described it as the “most significant incident of damage to civilian infrastructure since the start of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine”.

Friends of Ukraine protester

Marusya Jacyshyn on the job outside the Russian Embassy. Photo: Marusya Jacyshyn, Facebook.

The protest on the median strip near the Russian Embassy on Canberra Avenue has been constant since the start of the war on 24 February 2022. More turn out for the rallies each Saturday with flags, placards and speeches directed over the fence at the Russian diplomats.

The last three rallies have raised money for water filters for the villagers affected by the Kakhovka dam disaster.

“We got a lovely little response from them only the other day, touched that a smallish community in far-away Canberra is supporting them,” Marusya says.

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Next week, the group is preparing to mark the ninth anniversary of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine on 17 July 2014.

The flags of Australia, Ukraine and the Netherlands will be flying and lowered to half-mast for a prayer and minute of silence. This will be followed by the singing of the Australian and Ukrainian national anthems.

“Last year, we did it outside the Russian Embassy, and prior to that, we’ve done it in other locations,” Marusya says.

“We’re also very conscious of the fact we want to honour the memory of the 38 Australians who died the day MH17 was shot down, and the 80 children among the 283 passengers and crew members.”

Anyone with information regarding the dead possum incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.  Please quote 7452987. Information can be provided anonymously.

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They would, of course, have preferred the possum was a dead Ukrainian.

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