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Berset makes surprise visit to Ukraine

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 25 November 2023

President Alain Berset arrived in Ukraine on Saturday morning for a surprise visit. This was reported by a reporter from the Keystone-SDA news agency.

Berset makes surprise visit to Ukraine
Switzerland President Alain Berset and his delegation are visiting Ukraine for a one day official visit.(KEYSTONE/Anthony Anex)

Berset arrived by train in Nemishaieve near the Kiev suburb of Butscha. Russian troops carried out a massacre there in spring 2022. The President of the Swiss Confederation was accompanied by the Swiss Ambassador to Ukraine, Felix Baumann, and greeted on his arrival by Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Perebyinis.

As part of his visit to Ukraine, Berset was then to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife and take part in a summit on the export of Ukrainian grain to countries that rely on it.

Alain Berset commemorates the victims of the Butscha massacre

During his surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday morning, President Alain Berset paid tribute to the victims of the Russian massacre in the Kiev suburb of Butsha in spring 2022. He also paid tribute to the victims of the Holodomor famine.

Immediately after his arrival in Ukraine, the Swiss Interior Minister visited the largest mass grave in the village around 25 kilometers northwest of the capital Kiev, as a reporter from the Keystone-SDA news agency reported. The remains of dozens of civilians were found there after the attack.

Berset laid a wreath at the site of what was probably the worst massacre of civilians in the first weeks after the start of the Russian invasion, together with the mayor of Butscha, Rusland Kravchenko, and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin.

Commemoration of famine

During a tour, the President of the Swiss Confederation gained an impression of this tragic site, which is now largely repopulated. Images and eyewitness accounts from survivors triggered an international outcry in the days following the Butsha massacre. Russia denies any responsibility and claims that the massacre was only carried out after its troops had withdrawn.

Berset then commemorated the Holodomor famine, which claimed several million victims in the then Soviet Ukraine from 1931 to 1933. He lit a candle in front of the memorial in Kiev together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selensky and his wife. This year marks the ninetieth anniversary of the famine. It was classified as genocide by the EU Parliament in 2008.

Berset makes surprise visit to Ukraine
Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, right, lays down a candle during the commemoration ceremony of the Holodomor?s victims (1932-1933) in Ukraine, at National Museum of the Holodomor-Genoicide, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, November 25, 2023. (KEYSTONE/Anthony Anex)
Strongest drone attack since the start of the war

As part of his visit to Ukraine, Berset wanted to hold more detailed talks with Selensky later in the day and take part in a summit on the export of Ukrainian grain to countries that rely on it.

On Saturday night of all nights, Kiev was hit by the strongest drone attack since the outbreak of the war in February last year, according to Ukrainian reports. 71 Russian Shahed drones were shot down, the Ukrainian army announced. Five people, including a child, were injured, local authorities reported.

©Keystone/SDA

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