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by Joseph Anderson
11 March 2022
President Zelensky set for Edinburgh honour

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

President Zelensky set for Edinburgh honour

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in line to receive the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh, the capital’s most prestigious honour.

Councillors in Edinburgh – which is twinned with Kyiv – are set to consider giving Zelensky and the Mayor of Kyiv, retired boxer Vitali Klitschko, the honour in recognition of their efforts to repel the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The symbolic gesture will be considered at a meeting of Edinburgh City Council on Thursday, alongside a further motion which asks councillors to condemn Russia’s “horrific and illegal attacks on the independence of Ukraine, their people, and their homes” and outlines further steps Edinburgh might take to support humanitarian efforts and those displaced by the crisis.

If the motion is agreed, up to £100,000 of council funding would be targeted towards coordinating local efforts with the Edinburgh Partnership. This would help Edinburgh maximise supplies to Ukraine, support local infrastructure for facilitating donations, as well as the transport of supplies to Poland and elsewhere.

Other steps would see letters sent to the Home Office, the UK Foreign Office and the MOD to seek clarity and support for victims of the war arriving in Edinburgh - particularly children - and ask for help with temporary accommodation.

In an additional display of solidarity with Ukraine, a ban on Russian cultural events and performances in council-owned venues could be set (further to the cancellation of a Russian concert at the Usher Hall) and the council would end its relationship with the Russian Consulate.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “We all stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people in fighting this oppressive Russian regime and we will do everything we possibly can to support them.

“Following the city summit I hosted with the depute leader last week, with the Acting Consul General for Ukraine and local community leaders, we are now setting out a series of steps we can take together as a city.

“As part of this, we’re bringing forward motions to ask councillors to stand with us in condemning Putin’s tyranny, and intend to offer the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh to the President of Ukraine and Mayor of Kyiv. By remaining in Kyiv, they are fighting side-by-side with their citizens against the Russian invasion, in a true defence of their nation. This is not just in recognition of their own leadership and bravery, but the bravery of all Ukrainians battling for their nation.

The Freedom of the City is a tradition that dates back over 560 years to 1459, with the Queen and Sir Chris Hoy the only living individuals with the capital’s freemanship. It can only be “bestowed upon those who are held in the highest esteem”.

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