A vigil for the people of Ukraine organised by Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk took place in Bedford Square, Princesshay, on Sunday 27 February. Phil Bialyk and Ben Bradshaw spoke movingly to a large number of people gathered to show solidarity with those facing a humanitarian crisis.

Exeter Stands with Ukraine
Exeter Stands with Ukraine

Exeter suspends civic relations with its Russian twin city Yaroslavl

Councillors have unanimously supported a motion to suspend civic relations with Exeter’s Russian twin city Yaroslavl following the invasion of Ukraine.

They also condemned the act of aggression by the Russian government and backed plans to write to the Home Secretary expressing the city’s willingness to provide sanctuary for Ukrainian refugees forced to flee the crisis.

The motion was proposed by Council Leader Phil Bialyk, who has Ukrainian heritage and family members currently living in Ukraine.

Following an emotional and impassioned debate on the unfolding humanitarian crisis, councillors from all parties stood together at the end of the meeting in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The motion unanimously passed by councillors states:

“Exeter City Council condemns and cannot condone the actions of the Russian Government in invading the independent sovereign state of Ukraine. This Council condemns all acts of aggression against any state against another and its people.

This Council resolves:

  • That Exeter stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and the Council agrees to immediately suspend its civic relationship with Yaroslavl;
  • That it be noted that the Leader of the Council will write to Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, offering the City’s support for the people of Ukraine in these difficult times;
  • That it be noted that the Leader of the Council has written to the Home Secretary advising her that Exeter has always been a City which welcomes refugees from all over the world in their hour of need, and it would support the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees and urges the UK Government to consider an urgent review into the criteria to be applied to those Ukrainian citizens who are seeking asylum in the UK.
  • That appropriate arrangements be made, in co-operation with Inclusive Exeter, to extend and engage support for the Ukrainian community in Exeter
  • Exeter City Council supports efforts within local government to divest from Russian investments/assets and proceeds to encourage other local authorities to do so.”

Cllr Bialyk thanked all councillors from all parties for their support and solidarity and praised the people of Exeter for the way in which they had responded to the crisis.

He said: “The people of Ukraine need refuge from this catastrophe. It is appalling what has happened. They are so proud of their country and we need to support them in the best way that we can.

“I am proud of my heritage and also so proud to be a citizen of Exeter, and a citizen of this country, to see the way in which people have reacted, and the support they have given, to the citizens of Ukraine. Exeter stands with Ukraine.”

Exeter Stands with Ukraine
Exeter Stands with Ukraine
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