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UWC delegation visits city that withstood 38 days of Russian siege

#UWC news
November 27,2023 701
UWC delegation visits city that withstood 38 days of Russian siege

On November 26, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) delegation paid an official visit to Chernihiv, 70 kilometers from the border with Belarus. At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the city was under Russian siege for 38 days, but the enemy failed to capture it. Since February 24, about 700 people, both military and civilians, including children, have been killed in Chernihiv as a result of Russian aggression, local authorities reported. 

“The world has seen Russians commit genocide, and we must remember it all in order to prevent it from happening again,” stated UWC President Paul Grod during a meeting with the Acting Mayor of Chernihiv, Oleksandr Lomako.

Oleksandr Lomako briefed the UWC delegation on the battle for Chernihiv and emphasized that the city survived thanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

The UWC delegation saw first-hand the consequences of Russian crimes. In particular, the delegation visited the dilapidated Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Regional Academic Music and Drama Theater. On August 19, this year, during the Feast of the Transfiguration, Russian aggressors launched an attack on the Theater located in the city center. A Russian missile killed seven people, including a child, and injured 117 others. 

“I know that Ukrainians want to come back. We want to help them, and we want to see Chernihiv become a strong, successful city. That is why we have selected one of Chernihiv’s schools as a pilot project for our Energize Ukraine initiative,” stated the UWC President during the visit. 

The UWC leadership visited Chernihiv school #19, destroyed by six targeted missile strikes by Russians in March 2022.  

“I took pictures of the six bombs that hit the school,” says the principal, Lyudmyla Shelupets. During the Russian siege, the school cafeteria fed 2,400 defenders. School teachers bought medicines at their own expense and started a volunteer center. 

Amid the city’s shelling, locals, including a three-day-old infant, sought refuge in the school’s basement. According to the principal, the school has been teaching remotely for the past year – teachers have been teaching 54 classes from the basement in difficult conditions, in the cold, and without stable internet. 

The day before, the Ukrainian World Congress, together with the Energy Act for Ukraine Foundation, completed the installation of a hybrid solar station for the Chernihiv school as part of its Energize Ukraine initiative. 

This hybrid solar system will enable 1562 students to study even during possible blackouts and blackouts and will satisfy 20% of the school’s annual energy needs. The school’s roof is equipped with 54 panels with a capacity of 24.6 kW, which will ensure six hours of full operation during blackouts. 

During their visit to Chernihiv, UWC President Paul Grod, UWC First Vice President and Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) Stefan Romaniw, Roman Mykytenko, UWC Vice President for Northern Europe, and Roman Grod, the President of the World Congress of Ukrainian Students, also visited the village of Yahidne in Chernihiv Oblast. 

From March 3-30, 2022, more than 300 Yahidne village residents lived in hunger and cold in the basement of a school where the Russian occupiers herded them. Among the hostages were almost 50 children, including several infants. Ten prisoners died of suffocation and disease. In the same village 90 years ago, there were numerous deaths during the Holodomor. 

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not an ordinary war. It is an attempt by Putin to complete the Stalinist genocide of the Ukrainian nation,” emphasized UWC President Paul Grod.

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