Protests against trade of Russian diamonds in Antwerp

Protests against trade of Russian diamonds in Antwerp
Credit: Belga

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo has said that the impact of stopping the import of Russian diamonds “would be zero”, but Belgian residents and Ukraine refugees clearly do not agree.

At 13:30-15:00 on 3 April, Belgian-run non-profit organisation Promote Ukraine will host a protest in Antwerp – the heart of Europe’s diamond trade – against the import of Russian diamonds and demand further EU sanctions on the lucrative trade.

Protestors will gather on Antwerp’s central Operaplein, a stone’s throw from the heart of Antwerp’s diamond district, to express their solidarity with Ukraine and call for sanctions on the heads of diamond business.

“Last year, €1.8 billion rough diamonds were exported to Antwerp, which makes it the most significant destination of diamond exports from Russia,” the organisers say.

Funding Russian military efforts

Promote Ukraine claims that money from the sale of diamonds goes straight into the pockets of the Kremlin: “This money is going directly to Alrosa, a partially state-owned enterprise with links to the KGB and a close connection to Putin’s closest circle of war criminals.”

The Russian diamond industry also has close links to the nuclear sector, taking part in the mining, processing, and storage of Uranium. Alrosa is partnered with Russian nuclear agency Rosatum.

The sale of diamonds was a focal point of Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenky’s address at the Belgian parliament in which he criticised the inaction of the Belgian government, stating that "diamonds sold in Antwerp are apparently more important than the battle we are waging.”

A problem displaced, not solved

The sector fears that if heavy sanctions are imposed on the industry, then it will simply relocate to Arab nations such as the UAE or India.

“The European Commission is currently putting together a new sanctions package. We demand a full ban on Russian diamonds and the inclusion of Alrosa’s chief executive and his father in the sanctions list,” Promote Ukraine says.

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The organisers invite Belgians residents to join the protest and send a clear message to the Belgian government and EU institutions that “Belgium will not sponsor Russian war against Ukraine.”

More details about the protest can be found on Promote Ukraine's Facebook page.

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