Two separate peace rallies will be held in Italy on Saturday.
Rome will host a major rally on the afternoon of Saturday 5 November calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and the establishment of international peace talks.
The Europe for Peace event will begin at midday in Piazza della Repubblica before proceeding at 14.00 to Piazza S. Giovanni, leading to significant disruption to traffic and public transport in the city centre.
Around 50,000 people are expected at the march, including more than 500 groups comprising a wide spectrum of trade unions, civil society and religious associations, the Italian Disarmament Network, the Community of S. Egidio, Emergency, Greenpeace, Fridays for Future, the Sardines, and the ANPI association of Italian partisans.
The rally is non-political however parties on the left will be strongly represented, including the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) whose leaders Enrico Letta and Giuseppe Conte respectively will be present.
A message of peace from Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) will also be read from the stage in Piazza S. Giovanni, along with testimonies from Ukrainian peace activists and civilian victims of war.
Rome’s candlelight procession for peace in #Ukraine went from the Campidoglio to the Colosseum #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/9Zejv1kYnV
— Nemo (@nemo.guide) February 25, 2022
“We condemn the aggressor, we respect the Ukrainian resistance, we commit to help, support and stand by the Ukrainian people with all means, we stand by the victims” – a statement from the organisers reads – “This war must end now. No more suffering! Italy, the EU Member States and the United Nations must take responsibility for negotiations to stop the escalation and achieve an immediate ceasefire.”
A separate rally for peace in Ukraine will be held at the Arco della Pace in Milan at 16.00.
The demonstration is being organised by Carlo Calenda, leader of the centrist Azione, and will include his ally Matteo Renzi of the centrist IV party, along with Bergamo mayor Giorgio Gori and former Milan mayor Letizia Moratti.
The Milan rally will also include a live link with the mayor of Lviv, Andrij Ivanovyc Sadovyj.
Although both rallies have a common goal – that of achieving peace in Ukraine – they are divided over the sending of Italian weapons to the Ukrainian army.
Conte considers it necessary “to negotiate with Russia, which does not mean not holding firm the condemnation of the invasion” because “the way out is not a military victory but a peace negotiation”.
In contrast to the Rome event, the Milan rally will call openly for all measures necessary to protect the Ukrainian people, including the sending of arms.
“Asking for the delivery of weapons to be stopped” – Calenda argues – “does not mean promoting peace, but handing over Ukraine to the Russian aggressors”.