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Zelensky travels to Sumy Oblast, hands 'Hero City' award to Okhtyrka Mayor

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 28, 2023 4:22 PM 3 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky hands the "Hero City of Ukraine" award to Okhtyrka Mayor Pavlo Kuzmenko in northeastern Sumy Oblast on March 28, 2023. (Ukraine's Presidential Office)
This audio is created with AI assistance

President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city of Okhtyrka in northeastern Sumy Oblast on March 28, marking the one-year anniversary of its liberation by the Ukrainian military.

Zelensky handed the "Hero City of Ukraine" award to Mayor Pavlo Kuzmenko and other local officials in Okhtyrka, one of the first Ukrainian cities invaded by Russian troops in February last year.

According to President's Office, Zelensky also awarded Ukrainian soldiers who took part in defending the city against the Russian invasion.

"In Sumy Oblast, in our Okhtyrka, we honor the true Cossack courage and indomitability of our people, our heroes, all Ukrainian men and women," the president told the residents.

"Ukrainians will live here, on their land, in their cities and villages, which we have to rebuild after the war. And I'm sure it will definitely happen."

Okhtyrka, a small city with a pre-war population of about 46,000 people, is located about 80 kilometers south of the regional capital Sumy and nearly 50 kilometers from the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Having rich history rooted in Cossacks' heritage, Okhtyrka was heavily damaged by Moscow's all-out war and occupied by Russian troops for over a month.

During his visit, Zelensky also met with members of Ukraine's State Border Guard Service, surveyed checkpoints, and received a briefing on measures taken to secure the border between Sumy Oblast and Russia.

Over the past week, Zelensky visited the Ukrainian positions near Donetsk Oblast's Bakhmut and in southeastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast as well traveled to the eastern city of Kharkiv and central Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

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