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Zelensky swears ‘wickedness’ won’t destroy Ukraine in Orthodox Easter message

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KYIV — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed in an Orthodox Easter message on Sunday that no “wickedness” will destroy the country and prayed for God to return happiness to children and bring comfort to grieving mothers.

In a video address from one of the country’s best-known landmarks, kyiv’s 1,000-year-old Saint Sophia Cathedral, Zelensky said Ukraine would overcome the darkness the Russian invasion had brought to it.

“Today we still believe in Ukraine’s new victory and we are all convinced that we will not be destroyed by any horde or wickedness,” said Zelenskiy, dressed in his dark khaki outfit.

“We overcome dark times and on that day I – and most of us – don’t wear light clothes, but we fight for a bright idea.”

Subdued Easter celebrations took place across the country on Sunday, two months after the start of the Russian invasion that Russian President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation”.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the eastern region of Luhansk, said on Sunday that seven churches there had been destroyed during the war.

A church damaged by Russian artillery strikes is seen in northeast Kharkiv on April 23, 2022.
SOPA/LightRocket images via Gett

As churches were full for night and morning Easter services this year, churches were told not to gather many people, fearing they would be targeted by missiles.

Zelensky said Thursday that Russia had rejected a proposed truce over the Easter period.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on Sunday that Russian forces were shelling the Avozstal steelworks in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian defenders are entrenched.

People attend the Easter mass at St. Andrew’s Church and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in Bucha, Ukraine on April 24, 2022.
Reuters

In a Twitter post, he called for “a real Easter truce in Mariupol”, as well as an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians and special talks to facilitate the exchange of military and civilians.

In his message, Zelenskiy also said that Mariupol and its “heroic defenders” should not be forgotten.

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

Ukrainian officials said at least 213 children had been killed during the war, including a 3-month-old baby in strikes on Saturday in the southern city of Odessa.

Andriy Halavin, an Orthodox priest, sprays holy water on believers as he blesses traditional Easter food baskets at St. Andrew's Church and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, Ukraine on April 24, 2022 .
Andriy Halavin, an Orthodox priest, sprays holy water on believers as he blesses traditional Easter food baskets at St. Andrew’s Church and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, Ukraine on April 24, 2022 .
Reuters

Pavlo Krylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said on Telegram that two girls aged 5 and 14 were killed on Sunday when the building where they lived was destroyed by Russian shelling.

Russia has denied targeting civilians.

“Give every boy and girl a happy childhood, youth and old age, which will at least get rid of the memories of their terrible childhood during the war a little,” Zelensky said.

“Take care of our mothers, give stamina to those who are waiting for a son or daughter to return from war,” he added. “To give stamina to those who, unfortunately, would not see the return of their child from the front.”

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