The “Brave People of Ukraine” received the Sakharov Prize, the European Union’s best-known human rights award. The mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, spoke about the Russian-Ukrainian war, EU sanctions, and Hungary in an interview.
Ukraine’s brave people
A prize named after Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, the famous Russian political refugee, was presented at the European Parliament. “The Brave People of Ukraine” has been awarded the European Union’s most prestigious human rights prize. It is the first time that the prize has been awarded to an entire nation.
The Ukrainian people were represented by some activists and politicians. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivered a message via video link. He asked for a minute of silence for the Ukrainian dead. At the end of Zelenskiy’s speech, there was a long standing ovation in the European Parliament.
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War, Hungary, sanctions
Ivan Fedorov, mayor of Melitopol, was interviewed by 24.hu. The 34-year-old politician was kidnapped by the Russians at the beginning of the war. The kidnapping was caught on a public camera. Fedorov was a prisoner for a week and said he was not harmed, but heard others being tortured. Zelensky personally intervened to secure his release, and Fedorov was eventually released after a prisoner exchange and the surrender of nine Russian prisoners of war.
Fedorov says the situation is difficult. There are no services, pharmacies have closed, doctors have fled. The Russians are watching Ukrainian sympathisers and they could end up in prison, so the 34-year-old politician is calling for everyone to go to Ukrainian-controlled territory, because only there can they guarantee the safety of their citizens.
There is a debate in Hungary about the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia. “If war broke out in Hungary, all political questions would be put aside. If Putin were to invade Hungary and try to free you from some problem that you haven’t really been struggling with, you would put all your political debates aside. Putin is a terrorist. What can you do with a terrorist? Isolate him. With weapons, with sanctions, with contacts. Ultimately, he must be punished. Every action is important, including taking away tourist visas, and Hungary must do the same,” Fedorov said.
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