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Written by Anastasia Suliak from Ukraine

September 2023

“Yellow Ribbon”: non-violent civil resistance movement in Ukraine

Anastasia was a participant in the Utopias Against War – a seminar in Rome, Italy, which brought together young people from different countries, in order to imagine a future without war and militarism. The participants were invited to go back and reflect on peace and antimilitarism, and share their ideas which related to the project. Anastasia tells us about Yellow Ribbon, a non-violent civil resistance movement in Ukraine.

Yellow Ribbon logo

More than 580 days the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been fighting for the freedom of Ukraine since the Russian full-scale aggression. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians at the temporarily occupied territories are trying to resist occupiers by all means not to allow them to establish a “Russian world” at their homes. The civil resistance in the occupied territories of Ukraine is the symbol of future victory, defiance of the enemy, and strength and independence of the Ukrainian nation. One of the biggest civil resistance movements in Ukraine is the “Yellow Ribbon” movement. Currently, over 10,000 people joined the Telegram chat-bot of “Yellow Ribbon” movement which aims to coordinate resistance in the occupied territories and provide a communication channel among participants and leaders of the movement. The official date of the creation of the “Yellow Ribbon” civil resistance movement is 27 April 2022. On that day, the movement for the first time organized a protest against the Russian occupation of Kherson. Over 400 people participated at that protest bravely carrying the Ukrainian flags and yellow ribbon in front of Russian occupiers. Since then the yellow ribbon became the main symbol of the Ukrainian civil resistance in the occupied territories. Later people also started to use yellow hearts and the Ukrainian letter “Ї” as symbols of resistance.

People putting a "Yellow Ribbon" frame on

Inspired by the courage of people in Kherson, Ukrainians in other occupied regions began to demonstrate the resistance to the Russian occupation. Thus, the symbols of the “Yellow Ribbon” movement started to appear in all temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, from Lugansk to Crimea. On 18 May 2022, on the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People, “Yellow Ribbon” organized the first pro-Ukrainian demonstration in Simferopol for the last 8 years. Not to let Russian occupiers prepare for the demonstration, “Yellow Ribbon” coordinators announced the location 2 hours before the actual demonstration. One year later, “Yellow Ribbon” organized the secret coordination gathering in the depths of the Crimean mountains. Besides online and offline demonstrations in the occupied territories, “Yellow Ribbon” movement also carries out a few ongoing projects that aim to protect the rights of Ukrainian civilians under the Russian occupation. One of them is the “Anti-mobilization” project which seeks to help Ukrainians to avoid forced mobilization to the Russian army. Another project, “Anti-passportization”, within which activists of the “Yellow Ribbon” movement started an open-ended protest against obtaining Russian passports in all occupied Ukrainian territories and spreading the instructions among citizens how to undermine forced passportization.

“Yellow Ribbon” civil resistance movement attracted the attention of numerous media outlets, such as the New York Times, Guardian, France 24, CNN and others. On 14 February 2023, the “Yellow Ribbon” movement received a Sakharov Prize 2022 from the European Parliament as one of the faces of the brave people of Ukraine.

'Yellow Ribbon' representatives for the Sakharov Prize 2022

More information about the “Yellow Ribbon” movement you can find on their official web page: Slava Ukraini!