“You need ammunition, you need supplies, you need money, you need support!” the mayor from the USA said during the International Marathon of Local Governments
“As a mother, to see the pictures that you’ve shown, it makes me weep. It’s terrifying what the Russian army is doing in Ukraine today. I have no words to describe what I feel. You need ammunition, you need supplies, you need money, you need support!” These were the words of Ellen Glasser, Mayor of Atlantic Beach, Florida, USA, during the International Marathon “Local Governments Unite for Welfare and Peace.”
On April 7, 2022, the fifth meeting of the International Marathon took place, which was attended by Ukrainian mayors, mayors and representatives of local governments of the United States, Canada, Israel, and Mexico. Local government leaders discussed ways to stop Russian aggression.
“This is not operation, this is not even a war, this is a true genocide. If the Russian occupiers defeat Ukraine, they will move further — they will not stop at the border. “The whole world, everyone should do everything possible to stop them,” Maxim Babitski, Deputy Mayor of Rishon LeZion (Israel) said.
The mayors of Ukrainian cities communicated and showed the facts of the Russian army’s crimes on the territory of Ukraine to once again explain to the world that Ukraine needs weapons immediately, why it needs to close the airspace over Ukraine, why it needs to isolate Russia from the world.
“The front that Ukraine is protecting is bigger than the one during World War II — from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Unfortunately, you will see mass killings and bullying of civilians like the ones you’ve seen in Bucha in many other cities. A Russian soldier is the same everywhere. Many people died here, people who were active citizens. And they will never come back. We know where these Russian murderers live. They must be held accountable for what they’ve done. But we also need this war to end. And it depends on all of us. You can stop the war and ensure that it doesn’t go further to Europe and the world,” said Anatoliy Fedoruk, Bucha City mayor, a city on the outskirts of the capital. These were the photos, providing horrific evidence of crimes committed by the Russian army, that were all over the world.
Claudia Luciani, Director of the Directorate of Human Dignity, Equality and Governance, Council of Europe, who is a regular participant in the International Marathon, called the war in Ukraine “Dante’s inferno, except it’s not a fiction, this is real.” “We are all extremely shocked at what we have seen. The horror has no limit. So, this gives us even more motivation and extra motivation to stand with Ukrainian mayors and help Ukrainian mayors to do anything that’s possible. Human rights, the rule of law, democracy are the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe and Ukraine in the Council of Europe. We believe in the victory of Ukraine because the victory of Ukraine is the victory of the Council of Europe!”
The participants of the meeting stated that, among other things, Russia uses no less deadly weapons — lies.
“Do not believe Russian media. They lie. They spread lies. Let’s go back to 1994, when Ukraine accepted the non-proliferation treaty, and Russia was one of the countries that guaranteed our security and safety. Unfortunately, that was worth nothing. You remember 2014 when the green men without any patches invaded the country. And Russia never admitted it. That was a lie! Russia assured that it had no troops in Donbas. That was a lie! It now states that it’s not waging war in Ukraine, that it’s just a special operation. That is also a lie! Russia says that photos from Bucha were stages. That is a terrible lie!” emphasised Vitaliy Klychko, Kyiv City mayor.
“I was born in Russia. I heard the word ‘Jew’ in Voronezh where I had lived until I was 24. The mayor of this Russian city applauded the neo-fascists who walked down the street with a swastika. And in Ukraine, when I came to Kharkiv, and I did this on a number of occasions, the Israeli flag flew on the town hall of Kharkiv. How can the Israeli flag be raised in a country where fascism is? Maxim Babitski, Deputy Mayor of Rishon Lezion (Israel), said debunking the myth of Russian propaganda about the need to “denazify” Ukraine.
“Russia threatens everyone. This is a threat to the whole world. What is happening in Ukraine is a genocide against the Ukrainian nation. We are bombed every day, every hour. This is the 42th day of the war. We have 2,000 buildings destroyed, hundreds of residential buildings have been erased. We’ve all shaken from horror at the footage from Bucha. But the same happened when the village Mala Rohan was liberated in Kharkiv. The very same monstrosities are committed on the territories under Russian control. Men are castrated, women are raped. The entire world should address the Russian aggression. All the mayors have their own lobby. And I’m urging you — make full use of your influence so that we could receive the weapons we need and so that we could stop this madness brought to us by the Russian Federation,” Ihor Terekhov, Kharkiv City mayor, urged.
The Mayor of Chicago (USA) Lori Lightfoot said that she maintained close contact with Kharkiv and heard first-hand about the horrific attacks on Ukrainian cities. “We work tirelessly to send funds and medical and humanitarian supplies to support Ukrainians. I am praying for the brave people of Ukraine! Stay strong! We are with you. We will never abandon support for the brave people of Ukraine. And I said to the mayor of Kharkiv that I look forward to drinking from the cup of victory with my Ukrainian friends!”
Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener (Canada): “As Canadians, we speak with one united voice when we say that nothing can justify the targeting destruction of cities and communities and the evil and senseless loss of innocent civilian lives in places like Bucha and throughout Ukraine. We know that the resolve of the Ukrainian people is beyond powerful and the love of the country by Ukrainian brothers and sisters is eternal. May God bless Ukraine!”
Mariupol City mayor, Vadym Boichenko, drew the attention of international colleagues to the crimes committed by the Russian army in Russian-speaking Mariupol: “We can say that 90% of the infrastructure of our city is destroyed, 40% is beyond repair. 5,000 people were collected from the streets of our city, and we buried them in mass graves. Russian troops are trying to hide their war crimes. That’s why they haven’t allowed international missions into our city. They take the lives of our civilian people, and most of them are ethnic Russians! We need to get united. Only by uniting our efforts we can stop the Russian Federation and their main criminal — Putin.” He also called for a full embargo on trade with Russia, as Russia directs funds from the sale of energy to the destruction of cities such as Mariupol. “Which city will they burn down to ashes next?!”
Yuriy Bova, Trostianets City mayor — a city that has been under occupation for a month — spoke about the horrific crimes of Russian fascists: “The occupiers killed the civilians walking on the street. Snipers shot at people as if they were training at a shooting range. Like Hanna Samoilova, a wonderful, sensitive person. She was walking to get some bread. For 4 days, Russians denied access to her body so that she could be buried. In one family, a man was detonated with a grenade, and they did not allow the family to bury him. And his family had to see his body day to day. They are not people, they are beasts. And it’s not just Putin, it’s the entire nation. We found a diary of a Russian soldier. He wrote that they were worse than fascists. This is not an army, they are looters.”
Eric Mermelstein, the Commissioner of International Affairs of the New York City: “We have been close in contact with your Consulate General to ensure that we continue to be helpful. We will do even more to help Ukrainians. We try to help both at the level of government and at the level of our municipalities.”
Crimes committed by the russian army in Bucha, Irpin, Chernihiv, Sumy, Trostyanets, and what is happening now in Mariupol, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities, leave no room for holdback, said Oleksiy Chernyshov, Minister of Communities and Territories Development.
"This is the agression, terrorism, genocide that needs to be stopped. After all that has already happened, it is no longer just a matter of politicians and the military, it is a matter of everyone for whom ethics and human values have some weight. We demand from all institutions on which it depends to promote identification by name of everyone involved in these murders! and severe and just punishment for them. This punishment must be inevitable - for every criminal and for the state that can no longer be called anything other than a terrorist state. We ask, among other things, for your public support of our demands", said Oleksiy Chernyshov addressing foreign participants of the meeting.
He called on municipal officials to act immediately and decisively.
Lviv City mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, called on foreign colleagues to seek Russia’s total isolation.
“Yes, Russia has been suspended from the UN Human Rights Council today. And I’m saying that Russia should be isolated from the rest of the world for 50 years and suspended from all international organisations. How can you deal with the Nazis!?” He also stressed that the position of mayors of the world’s cities is critical in all issues related to countering Russian aggression.
Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal (Canada), expressed her support for the Ukrainian mayors and the Ukrainian people: “Here, in Montreal, we are far away, but we are doing everything we can to provide assistance. In the coming weeks and months, we will have Ukrainian refugees arrive, Ukrainian families who will come to Montreal. And you should know that we will greet them with open arms. You should know that the Ukrainian community that has formed here, in Montreal, is very strong and significant, and we know that it needs the support of the whole city, all of Quebec and all of Canada. And today the main thing I have to tell you is that you are not alone. We stand by you, and we will do everything in our power to send a very clear message to our government that this invasion is unacceptable and must be stopped.”
Concluding this part of the marathon, Viacheslav Nehoda, Deputy Minister for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, said: “We must not only win this war but also vaccinate the aggressor country and all other similar countries so that this never happens again.” He also called on the representatives of the municipalities to further cooperate and expand their aid.
The organizers invited the participants to send a message to email@example.com for further communication with Ukrainian hromadas or for searching for new partners in Ukraine.
We would like to remind you that the International Marathon is organised by the Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, the Council of Europe Programme “Enhancing Decentralisation and Public Administration Reform in Ukraine,” the USAID Economic Resilience Activity, the Swiss-Ukrainian Decentralisation for Improved Democratic Education (DECIDE) project, the Association of Ukrainian Cities, the Association of Amalgamated Communities, and the Decentralisation Portal.
A video stream of the event is available at https://fb.watch/c5oqBs3bLj/
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Official Telegram channel (English version) covering the war is available at https://t.me/UA_struggle
Photo gallery is accessible at https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/tag/foto-viiny
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