President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked Ukraine’s annual Day of Dignity and Freedom on Monday by celebrating the sacrifices made by his people since Russia’s invasion and saying they would endure and prevail.
In a video address to the nation, Zelenskyy hailed the contributions made by people of all kinds – from soldiers, firefighters and medics to teachers giving online lessons, villagers cooking for the military, tailors sewing uniforms and farmers ploughing their fields despite the risk.
He praised their defiance despite frequent missile strikes, widescale destruction, shortages and rolling blackouts as winter sets in, almost exactly nine months since Russia’s invasion.
“We can be left without money. Without gasoline. Without hot water. Without light. But not without freedom,” Zelenskyy said in an address that he delivered standing in an ornate room in the presidential palace in the capital Kyiv.
Ukrainians mark anniversary of Maidan protests
The Day of Dignity and Freedom marks the pro-European Union protests of 2013/2014 that became known as the Maidan Revolution of Revolution of Dignity, and the 2004 Orange Revolution. In both revolutions, Ukraine’s leadership was overthrown.
Highlighting Ukraine’s defiance against Russia, Zelenskyy’s video included extracts of the address given on the anniversary a year ago when he wore a dark suit and tie. This year he wore the khaki T-shirt that has become his trademark during the war.
“What has changed since then (a year ago)? A lot. Craters appeared on our land. There are checkpoints and anti-tank hedgehogs in our cities and villages. It may be dark on our streets. It may be cold in our homes,” Zelenskyy said.
“There are many changes, but they have not changed the most important thing. Because the most important thing is not outside, but inside. And it remains unchanged. And that’s why we will hold out. We will endure.”
He said that in the future Ukrainians would gather on Kyiv’s central Independence Square, which was central to the events of 2013/14 and 2004. “Where we will celebrate the Victory Day of Ukraine. In a peaceful Kyiv, in a peaceful Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy and first lady Olena Zelenska commemorated the day by visiting the memorial to fallen protesters.
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