'We have the privilege of protesting': Russian woman organises Leeds rally against Putin's war

A Russian PhD student from Leeds says she helped organise a rally against the war in Ukraine simply "because she could".

Polina Merkufova's protest, attended by hundreds of people in the city centre, was to speak out against Vladamir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

She said many of her friends have been arrested overnight in Moscow - since it became illegal there to hold a protest.

Polina also shared messages she received from friends back in Ukraine.

The message from her friend Maria in Kyiv said: "Just a week ago I had a life, but how to live now. When will this end? What will happen tomorrow? Will I survive?

"How did our grandmothers bear the horrors of the whole Second World War if I age 10 years in just a week?"

Polina said that she had not heard from Maria for two days and that she hopes that she has survived.

She told ITV News that some of her Ukranian friends felt Russians could do more, so "today was the result".

Speaking outside Leeds Town Hall she said: "They spent the night in jail, but they are going straight back out to do the same again.

"Having lived in Russia having spoken to people there... this is a huge privilege. To be able to protest.

"It is an even bigger privilege to survive, and not be bombed, and not having to hide with your children in a bomb shelter. So I am very grateful that you turned out today to show your support in a way that you can."