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Commons Speaker pledges to give a voice to Ukrainian parliamentarians

18 March 2022

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Four Ukrainian women MPs told the Speaker of the House of Commons they are targets of Russian aggression as they continue to make the case for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

In a meeting with Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the group said they dare not return to their apartments – and had travelled to the UK on a diplomatic mission, while their male MP colleagues stayed back in Ukraine to fight.

They told Mr Speaker that they were grateful for the UK’s tough sanctions on Russia – and urged him and others to "use their influence on other heads of Parliament" to impose the same.

Sir Lindsay said he would pass on their concerns during regular meetings with the Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary and with his fellow Speakers in the Commonwealth.

He had also expressed his solidarity for Ukraine by allowing President Zelenskyy to make an unprecedented address to the House of Commons, and during a virtual meeting of G7 Speakers on Wednesday.

"Wherever I can, I will promote your message," he said.

During the meeting, which was instigated by Alicia Kearns MP, Ukrainian MP Alona Shkrum, of the Batkivschyna Party, explained the risks she and her colleagues faced.

"We are all on red lists and blacklists," she said. "We cannot stay in our own apartments."

Lesia Vasylenko MP, for the Holos Party, added: "We are on a diplomatic mission – only the women are allowed out of the country.

"Male MPs are staying back and fighting. Some of them are in the regular Armed Services, some are heading municipal and territorial defence units. We, the women, do the international fight."

She said a no-fly zone over Ukraine was needed to allow civilians safe passage through humanitarian corridors.

MP Maria Mezentseva, of the Servant of the People Party, said the world had to do its bit to end the Russian war on Ukraine.

Calling for helmets and body armour, not just for the military, but for volunteer fighters, she added: "Our people are suffering a lot.

"Many of us don’t know what we are coming back to, but we will fight to the end and the diplomatic mission will roll on.

"But the international community has to realise that it is up to you to help us end this war."