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Ukrainians Mark Somber Orthodox Easter As Zelenskiy Vows 'Wickedness' Will Not Destroy His Country

By RFE/RL April 24, 2022

Ukrainians are marking Orthodox Easter with prayers for those fighting on the front lines and others trapped beyond them in places like Mariupol, while President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed in an Easter message that no "wickedness" will destroy the country.

Standing inside the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Zelenskiy said in a video address that Ukraine will overcome the darkness that Russia's unprovoked war has brought upon it.

"Today, we still believe in the new victory of Ukraine and we are all convinced that we will not be destroyed by any horde or wickedness," Zelenskiy said.

"We are overcoming dark times and on this day I -- and most of us -- are not in bright clothes, but we are fighting for a luminous idea."

Subdued Easter celebrations took place across the country, exactly two months since the beginning of the Russian invasion that has killed thousands and forced millions to flee their homes.

Serhiy Hayday, governor of the eastern Luhansk region, said on April 24 that seven churches there had been destroyed in the fighting.

Ukrainian authorities had on April 23 urged those celebrating to follow religious services online and to respect nighttime curfews.

Zelenskiy said on April 21 that Russia had rejected a proposal for a truce over the Easter period.

Senior Ukrainian negotiator Mykhaylo Podolyak said on April 24 Russian forces were shelling the Avozstal steelworks in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian defenders are holed up.

Writing on Twitter, he called for "a real Easter truce in Mariupol," along with an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians and special talks to facilitate the exchange of military and civilians.

In his Easter message Zelenskiy said Mariupol and its "heroic defenders" should not be forgotten.

"It is possible to destroy the walls, but it is not possible to destroy the foundation on which the spirit of our warriors, the spirit of the whole country, rests," he said.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, called for humanitarian corridors in Mariupol and other areas of Ukraine, where he said, "an indescribable human tragedy is unfolding."

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-somber- orthodox-easter/31818605.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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