05 June 2020, 20:52
Pope Francis dealing with issue of release of Ukrainian national guardsman convicted in Italy - Zelensky
Kiev, June 5, Interfax - Pope Francis is dealing with the issue of the release of a Ukrainian National Guard member, who was convicted in Italy, and has expressed his solidarity with the Ukrainian people, Ukraine's President Vladimir Zelensky said.
"Promised Pontifex to convey greetings to the Ukrainian people, to whom the Pope feels 'close in heart.' His Holiness is taking care of the release of the Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy Markiv. His support for the unity, solidarity and openness of Europe is crucial for Ukraine," Zelensky said on Twitter on Friday.
According to the website of the Ukrainian head of state, the two spoke by telephone in follow-up to the dialogue started during the president's official visit to Vatican on February 8. The parties discussed the Covid-19 crisis and the global humanitarian challenges it poses. The pope noted his appreciation of Ukraine's aspiring to solidarity. The pair also noted the good example of certain Ukrainian churches in supporting the government-imposed quarantine measures.
The president informed the pope on the security situation in Donbass and asked the Holy See to assist with the release of all Ukrainians who are being held illegally in the breakaway part of Donbass and in Russia, including in Crimea. "We are looking for a solution to advance in the peace process. Ukraine will not overstep the 'red lines' against its own security, sovereignty and territorial integrity," Zelensky said.
The pair discussed bilateral humanitarian cooperation and agreed on coordination on healthcare and environmental issues and the implementation of relevant joint initiatives.
The president confirmed his invitation to Pope Francis to visit Ukraine.
Markiv, who has a dual Italian and Ukrainian citizenship, was arrested in Italy on June 30, 2017, on suspicion of killing the Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli near Slavyansk, Donetsk Region, in May 2014.
On July 12 last year an Italian court sentenced Markiv to 24 years of imprisonment, having found him guilty of aiding the premeditated murder of Rocchelli.