Shop vandalised with pro-Russian war graffiti

A local shop owner says he is “shocked” his premises was targetted over the weekend with pro-Russian war graffiti.

Gardaí are now investigating the matter, which occurred at around 10pm on Saturday last, June 25. While no arrests have been made to date, a spokesperson for the force informed The Anglo-Celt that: “investigations are ongoing”.

Polish national and owner of the ABC Food Market in Ballyconnell, Rafal Szydlowski, is already planning a “positive” way to cover up the graffiti. The words in sprayed paint includes pro-Russian war slogans such as the 'Z' symbol seen as a mark of support for Russia military's invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this year there was outcry after a group of vehicles led by 4x4 displaying the 'Z' symbol drove in convoy down Dublin's M50. The cavalcade occurred just days after Oireachtas members gave a standing ovation to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, following a video address.

Mr Zelenskiy had thanked both chambers of parliament for their support for Ukraine.

The number of Ukrainians in Ireland fleeing the war has now climbed to almost 40,000, according to latest Central Statistics Office figures, with almost 3,000 arriving in the past fortnight. Around 700 Ukrianian nationals have arrived in Cavan.

The perpatrator behind last weekend's act of vandalism used white spray paint to daub the windows of the Ballyconnell business, which specialises in European foods, and has been open in Ballyconnell since 2014.

Rafal subsequently shared an image of the damage on social media and he says the outpouring of support from the local community has been “incredible”.

Rafal says while he does “not agree” with the war in Ukraine, he bears no ill-will towards Russian people, and has many Russian friends.

“I've travelled Russia, have Russian friends, and definitely don't have anything against Russians. When I put a picture of this on my Facebook page I received lot of support, incredible really. It's been incredible.”

What he finds most “hurtful” about the vandalism is that he says his business is “more than a shop”.

“Our door is open to everyone. We have people of all nationalities come to shop here. It's not just about buying a loaf of bread, but people come here and meet others from Eastern Europe, they have chats. Its a point for those small meetings over a week. So this is a disgrace, really.”

Rafal hopes to put his plan of action in motion to both clean and cover up the damage in the coming days.

“I have a plan,” he said, remaining coy on what those details might be. “I want to remain positive. The thing that's happening in Ukraine in a real thing. They are paying in blood, it's sometimes easy to forget, but it is real and it is happening.”

See next week's newspaper for full report.