Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Utah denounces Russian invasion

The day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Honorary Consul of Ukraine Jonathan Freedman denounced the invasion and repudiated any notion that Ukraine is at fault for the battle.

“These occasions of aggression are terribly unhappy and unlucky for harmless Ukrainian households which are simply attempting to guide their lives,” he advised The Salt Lake Tribune Thursday. “They didn’t ask for this. They did nothing to provoke an assault. It’s bullying at its rawest type. It’s utterly unprovoked.”

Freedman has served as an honorary consul of Ukraine since 2008, after residing within the nation as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1993 to 1995. He mentioned he served primarily in japanese Ukraine, within the metropolis of Donetsk, a area that Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged as unbiased on Monday as a pretext for invasion.

Freedman joined others in Utah who spoke out Thursday towards Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

Freedman has stored in touch with folks there and described the messages he’s obtained for the reason that invasion started, saying, “The folks in Ukraine are frightened. They’re frightened actually for his or her lives, for his or her youngsters. … It’s actually unhappy, as a result of at this level they don’t have any choices. And so they’re actually simply caught.”

He famous that Utah is house to round 1,500 Ukrainians, who’re at the moment fearful for his or her family and friends nonetheless residing within the nation.

When requested what Utahns might do to assist the embattled nation, Freedman urged folks to cellphone their representatives and ask for assist for Ukraine.

“We encourage folks to name the White Home,” he mentioned, “to name our two senators in Utah and to ask for stronger sanctions, to ask for navy and humanitarian assist to Ukraine, to, fairly frankly, pray for Ukraine and for Ukrainians and for his or her nation, which may be very a lot prone to being misplaced.”

Freedman has additionally been in touch with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and its ambassador, who’s working to fight misinformation concerning the battle.

“On this somber morning, my coronary heart is breaking and my ideas are with the folks of Ukraine,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson mentioned in a press release Thursday. “This premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified act of battle should unite us in compassion, as collectively we stand towards tyranny.”

Utah County Legal professional David Leavitt, who taught regulation college students in Ukraine for greater than a decade, mentioned he spent Thursday morning attempting to succeed in out to his buddies there to ensure they’re protected. It left him feeling helpless.

“I’m extraordinarily unhappy,” he mentioned. “A few of my dearest buddies on this planet are actually fleeing for his or her lives as we converse. They’re a girl and her son with whom I ate hen soup of their condominium three weeks in the past who at the moment are within the lengthy visitors jam attempting to get out of Kyiv to get to Poland.”

Leavitt owns an condominium in Kyiv, and was there final month as threats of a Russian invasion prompted him to make a fast journey to gather paperwork proving possession of that condominium and to gather some private results. He ended up caught in Amsterdam for every week on his journey again to Utah as a result of he examined constructive for COVID-19.

Throughout his years educating in Ukraine, Leavitt mentioned he instructed regulation college students concerning the rules of American jury trials.

“When regulation college students in Ukraine come to the conclusion that we’re asking them to not take part in a corrupt system,” he mentioned, “that means we’re asking them to not give bribes to judges and prosecutors and to not take bribes, it turns into a really somber and solemn second for them.”

The county lawyer mentioned it was the Ukrainian regulation college students’ confusion over how plea offers might work in the US that made him notice the shortcomings of the felony justice system. He’s now outspoken about wanting reform.

Leavitt mentioned that his time in Ukraine has influenced his authorized profession in Utah, making Thursday a “actual robust day” for him, personally.

“If Individuals imagine that permitting Vladimir Putin simply in a wholesale trend to invade and take a rustic, that’s going to not have an effect on each American life and each life on this planet, they’re kidding themselves,” he mentioned. “This can be a second in time when the world has to face up towards this.”

Jean Hill, who’s the director of life, justice and peace with the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake Metropolis, advised The Tribune in an electronic mail, “We be part of with Pope Francis in his name for prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and the safety of harmless lives.”

“We encourage our authorities leaders to welcome any Ukrainian refugees displaced by these mindless acts of aggression and urge folks to help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters by donating to the efforts of Catholic Aid Providers, which is already serving folks in want in Ukraine,” she mentioned.

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