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Watch: Ukrainian-born Welsh minister given standing ovation by Senedd

01 Mar 2022 4 minutes Read
Mick Antoniw being given a standing ovation in the Senedd

A Ukrainian-born Welsh minister was given a standing ovation by MSs in the Senedd today following a powerful speech.

Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s Constitution Minister and Counsel General, thanked people across Wales “for their messages of support, their solidarity and generosity”, following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

He has been raising money for medical equipment for Ukrainians caught up in the conflict in the country.

The minister had originally set a target of £5,000 on the fundraiser but had passed that target within a few hours of launching. The Crowdfunder has now reached £36,924.

He is asking anyone who wants to make a donation to do so by midnight tonight so he can get the money to where it is needed as soon as possible.

The MS for Pontypridd, whose family is from the country, said he had received requests from Ukraine for medical equipment to help deal with the kind of traumas associated with war.

In his speech to the Senedd, the minister said the Russian Government is “guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes”.

He also compared the first line of the Ukrainian national anthem, which says ‘Ще не вмерла України’, which means ‘Ukraine has not died’ in English to the Welsh anthem Yma o Hyd by folk singer Dafydd Iwan.

Mick Antoniw told the Senedd: “Diolch, Llywydd, and thank you for this extraordinary – for this extraordinary opportunity to say a few words.

“The first words are really to recognise those brave Russian students and young people who have been demonstrating all across the Russian Federation, because they are the real future of the Russian Federation, rather than those around Putin.

“Can I personally thank all of the people of Wales for their messages of support, their solidarity and generosity over the past week, to myself and in particular to the Ukrainian community in Wales? I have communicated these to people in Ukraine who are currently fighting for their freedom and democracy, many of whom I met whilst in Kyiv last week with my colleague Adam Price.

“We’ve all watched with horror the missile and the bombing attacks on civilians and residential buildings and the escalation to the use of ground rockets, thermo bombs and cluster bombs.

“There can be no doubt that Putin and those in the Russian Government are guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes. I’m pleased that the International Criminal Court has now begun an investigation into these crimes, and I fully endorse the action now being taken.”

‘Investigation’ 

He added: “In the statement of prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC on the situation in Ukraine, he says, ‘I have decided to proceed with opening an investigation. ‘Last Friday, I expressed my increasing concern, echoing those of world leaders and citizens of the world alike, over the events unfolding in Ukraine. Today, I wish to announce that I have decided to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine, as rapidly as possible… I have reviewed the Office’s conclusions arising from the preliminary examination of the Situation in Ukraine, and have confirmed that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with opening an investigation. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine’.

“Llywydd, there are several lines in the Ukrainian national anthem that were sung on the steps here last night. The first line is ‘Ще не вмерла України’.

“Perhaps it’s closest to ‘Yma o hyd’—Ukraine has not died.  The other line is: ‘Душу й тіло ми положим за нашу свободу’, that we will lay down our body and our soul for our freedom.

“Llywydd, the war in Ukraine has turned into a war against the people of Ukraine, and all our thoughts are with those people who have taken up arms to defend democracy and to fight for freedom, including members of my own family.

“Слава Україні! Героям слава! Thank you. [Applause.]”


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