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Zelensky says Russian sanctions against 52 Irish politicians are ‘propaganda’ and ‘don’t affect anything’

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Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky during an address to Ireland’s third-level sector via video link at the Helix in Dublin City University. PA

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky during an address to Ireland’s third-level sector via video link at the Helix in Dublin City University. PA

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky during an address to Ireland’s third-level sector via video link at the Helix in Dublin City University. PA

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russia banning 52 Irish politicians from entering the country is propaganda and “doesn’t affect anything”.

Mr Zelensky spoke to students in DCU today by video link, and addressed the list which has imposed sanctions on more than 30 Fianna Fáil politicians along with members of Fine Gael, and Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik. 

"I have heard that Russia has imposed sanctions against 52 politicians of your country,” said Mr Zelensky. 

"The reason is because your country supports European efforts to stop Russian terror and revive the international law.

"Of course, those restrictions imposed by Russia don’t really affect anything; it’s more of a propaganda thing, so that Russian TV can pretend that Russia is still capable of something.”

Further Education Minister Simon Harris, who is not on the list and who also spoke at the event, told reporters that the list is “a trap” to distract the people of Ireland. 

"The Putin regime are good at this and trying to distract people,” said Mr Harris. 

"They're trying to make people look over here instead of actually focusing on what's happening on the continent.” 

The Fine Gael TD said he was “not aware” of being on the list, but that querying if he is “is a trap”.

"That again is an absolute trap,” said Mr Harris.

"The reality of the situation is this is a tactic of war by Russia, it doesn't matter who's on the list.

"What matters is that Putin has invaded a sovereign European country, that's what matters.

"What matters is that 63,000 people have been run out of their country to the shores in Ireland, that millions have been displaced.

“The sexual crimes that have been committed, the people who have been raped, the torture chambers that we've heard about – that's what matters.”

Today’s event in DCU’s Helix theatre was organised by Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko, who said the students in Ireland are our future, and she hopes their friendship and collaboration with Ukraine continues to grow. 

Three weeks ago, the Government warned those fleeing the war in Ukraine that they may not be accommodated in Ireland due to a lack of housing. 

However, Ms Gerasko said Ukrainian refugees are still arriving, as many of them may not have the internet or electricity needed to read media reports. 

"Our embassy and the embassy in Ukraine started a campaign in Ukraine mass media and on social media, so we are informing our Ukrainians about all conditions with accommodation,” she said. 

"However, we cannot guarantee that all Ukrainians read mass media because many of them haven’t electricity, or internet, especially local people who are fleeing the country from occupied territories. 

"But, we are doing our best to inform Ukrainians of what to expect but it’s not even just Ireland facing such situations but all of Europe.”

According to Minister Harris, around 500 Ukrainian refugees have now been enrolled in higher education and 15,000 in further education and training. 

Maksym Drozdovskyi and Halyna Kovalchuk both fled the war in Ukraine earlier this year. They are now both living in Dublin and are students of Coláiste Dhúlaigh College of Further Education. 

After watching President Zelensky’s speech today, the students said they are feeling much more positive about their country’s situation, and believe Ukraine will win the war. 

"I am definitely emotional, I got so inspired by him and reassured that everything is going to be alright,” Mr Drozdovskyi, who is studying journalism, said. 

"The students are the ones who need the most support because we are still young and easily influenced. 

"So to hear that everything is going to be alright is really important because I know people who are depressed about not being able to go home, but it’s going to get better.”

Ms Kovalchuk, who is studying English language, said she also feels relieved after watching President Zelensky’s address, as her father and many of her friends are still in Ukraine. 

“I’ve watched [Zelensky] on TV and it’s not the same as in real life,” she said. 

"I have a lot of friends and my father [are still in Ukraine] but they are in different situations. 

"The people who are living in villages or private houses are in a better situation because they have a fireplace and equipment to warm themselves, but people in flats in high buildings don’t, even water for them is very hard to get. 

"So, I think we need to try to help them so they can survive this winter.”


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