On the second anniversary of the liberation of Kyiv region from Russian invaders, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in the raising of the State Flag of Ukraine on the flagpole of the Memorial to the Defenders of the Bucha Community.

By the end of March 2022, invading Russian forces had failed to capture the capital of Kyiv, and were driven out of the region in a humiliating defeat. But upon liberation, the residents of the area who survived the vicious occupation were finally able to take a full measure of the brutal war crimes that Russian troops had committed across their neighborhoods and homes.

The mass grave discovered behind St. Andrew’s Orthodox Church in Bucha was just one of the civilian massacre sites that the fleeing Russian forces abandoned in their retreat. President Zelenskyy stood beside that ground on March 31 to present awards honoring those lost souls, the cities that sacrificed so much to defend their nation, and members of the military who were all declared heroes of Ukraine.

“For us, this is a war to defend Ukraine and everything that makes people human. That is why this war is of global significance. This is a war for the right to exist for our state and, at the same time, for the right to life for every person. It is a war for dignity for our people and for every nation that seeks its own destiny. This is a war so that no one dares to become a beast towards others,” said President Zelenskyy.

According to the President, when Ukrainian warriors drove the Russian occupiers out of Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, and other towns and communities in Kyiv region, and then from Sumy and Chernihiv regions, the whole world saw that these were victories not only of Ukrainian courage and weapons, but also of human morality.

“I am proud of everyone who dedicates their lives to ensuring that the life of our entire Ukraine is preserved. I thank everyone in the world who really helps us. And may the whole world never forget the cost of this battle and the evil we are holding back here on our land,” added President Zelenskyy.

Attendees at the ceremony observed a minute of silence in memory of all Ukrainians whose lives were taken by the Russian occupiers.

President Zelenskyy then presented awards honoring the “Hero City of Ukraine” to Mayor of Irpin Oleksandr Markushyn, and Head of Hostomel Village Military Administration Serhiy Smal.

By his Decree of March 6, 2022, the President of Ukraine introduced the honorary award “Hero City of Ukraine” to recognize the feat, heroism, and resilience of citizens in defending their cities during the repulse of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation.

On March 24, 2022, Bucha, Irpin, Mykolaiv, and Okhtyrka were awarded the title of Hero Cities. Volnovakha, Hostomel, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Chernihiv also received the award.

In addition, President Zelenskyy presented the servicemen with the Orders of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, II and III class, “For Courage,” II and III class, medals “For Military Service to Ukraine,” “For Impeccable Service,” III class, and “For Saved Life.”

In particular, Colonel Oleksandr Voloshyn of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Captain Oleksiy Fandetskyi, who ensured the evacuation and escort of convoys of vehicles with civilians from Bucha to Bilohorodka, received awards from the President. In total, more than 300 vehicles with citizens were evacuated between March 9 and 10.

Lieutenant Colonel Andriy Kolodiazhnyi, Sergeant Oleksandr Fesyk, Sergeant Myron Khymytsia, and Senior Sergeant Oleksandr Martyniuk, who participated in the destruction of enemy convoys in the settlements of Bucha district, Kyiv region, in March 2022, were also awarded.

The President also awarded Junior Sergeant Serhiy Doroshenko and Captain Ruslan Mamchyk. They were installing minefields and engineering barriers, which successfully helped repel the enemy attacks.

The awards were also given to the National Guard warriors – Sergeant Maksym Bovchaliuk and Sergeant Serhiy Kvitko, who took part in fierce battles against the Russian occupiers in Kyiv region, patrol police officer Oleh Shvets, who participated in stabilization activities in Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, and Police Major Ivan Dulkai, who has been documenting and investigating the Russian army’s brazen war crimes since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia.

Further awards were presented to the SSU servicemen Sergeant Hryhoriy Kalachnikov and Sergeant Andriy Mendzhul, who were involved in counter-offensive actions by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the area of Zabuchchya and preparation of a bridgehead for the further liberation of Bucha.

The President also awarded employees of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine Vitaliy Farenyk and Pavlo Zaiika who ensured the evacuation of civilians from the Vorzel, Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin, and Hostomel to Kyiv. Vitaliy Farenyk showed extraordinary courage and heroism during the evacuation from the city of Irpin, when Russian soldiers opened fire on civilians near the bridge over the Irpin River in the village of Romanivka in Kyiv region.

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The Presidential Office of Ukraine and the City of Irpin