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Russians plan an exhibition showcasing the "prosperity" of occupied Mariupol in Italy. Ukraine's MFA calls it a provocation

04.01.2024, 17:46

Russians are planning an exhibition/conference in Modena (Italy) about Mariupol's supposed "rapid recovery" under Russian occupation. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the exhibition a provocation.

The event titled "Mariupol. Revival After The War" (Mariupol. La rinascita dopo la guerre) was announced by the Russian cultural association "Associazione Culturale Russia Emilia Romagna" and is set to take place on January 20.

The purpose of the exhibition is for Russians to "present the Modena public with the results of the new city administration's work following the city's complete liberation in the spring of 2022, when the Azov Battalion at the Azovstal plant surrendered."

The organizers' presentation calls Mariupol, which was shelled to rubble by the Russian troops and occupied, "a city symbolizing the Donbas people's uprising against the Kyiv junta, a martyr city." The Russians claim that Mariupol was "liberated" from the "occupation by bandits that lasted for eight years," countin from the time when Mariupol temporarily had been under the rule of the so-called "DPR".

The announcement also says that the conference is going to prove that Mariupol is "going through a rapid recovery under the auspices of the Russian institutions" and the city itself has become "an inseparable part of the Russian Federation."

The scheduled speakers for the conference include the association's president Luca Rossi, the Russian Consul General Dmitry Shtodin, an Italian representative of the International Movement of Russophiles (MIR) Eliseo Bertolasi, and journalist Andrea Lucidi.

The Ukrainian MFA spokesman Oleh Nikolenko has said in his comment to Interfax-Ukraine that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already instructed the Ukrainian Embassy in Rome to prepare an official appeal regarding this exhibition.

"The exhibition in Modena about Mariupol's 'prosperity' under the Russian occupation is a provocation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has already instructed the Ukrainian Embassy in Rome to prepare an official appeal," he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the Italian government strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. "And we expect an appropriate reaction to this propaganda event," the spokesman said.

At the same time, Ukrainian activists in Italy plan a protest in the event that the exhibition does take place, and call on all volunteers to join, a local Modena newspaper reports. The city's mayor Mr. Muzzarelli (Democratic Party MP) commented on the exhibition: "We will check that the assignment of public areas complies with the procedures, but our position regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine has certainly never been called into question."

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