Taoiseach apologises in Kyiv to Ukrainian actor who was brutally assaulted in Dublin

While on a surprise trip to Kyiv today, Mr Varadkar asked Oleksandr Hrekov if he was doing OK, to which he replied, through a translator: “Yes, everything is fine, everything is perfect.”

The Taoiseach said: “I’m sorry for what happened. Dublin is my home town, but sometimes not 100pc safe, unfortunately.”

The young actor’s reply was: “All places are like that.”

Mr Hrekov was attacked in Dublin city centre shortly after performing at the city’s Abbey Theatre.

He was part of a Kyiv theatre company that had travelled to Dublin to put on a production of Translations by Irish playwright Brian Friel. The actor required stitches in hospital.

Mr Varadkar visited the Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Drama Theatre company in Kyiv on his visit to the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar poses in Kyiv with actors as he visits Lesya Ukrainka Theatre, which staged Brien Friel’s Translations in Dublin last month. Photo: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

They performed a song for the Taoiseach before presenting him with a copy of Translations signed by the cast.

Mr Varadkar then spoke with Mr Hrekov, shaking his hand and inquiring about his well-being since the assault.

There was widespread condemnation of the random street attack on Eden Quay last month after the show’s final performance.

Oleksandr Hrekov. Photo: Matt Shanahan

Culture minister Catherine Martin condemned the “cowardly attack”, along with other Irish politicians.

On an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar vowed to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes after holding talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mr Varadkar visited the sites of several atrocities committed in the early weeks of the Russian invasion, before meeting the Ukrainian leader in the capital.

After an engagement with the president, Mr Varadkar then met Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk.

Mr Varadkar also paused for a moment’s silence at a memorial in central Kyiv for the children who have died in the conflict, placing a toy lamb among the other teddies.

At a press conference after an hour-long meeting with Mr Zelensky, Mr Varadkar insisted Ukraine would win the war.

“Perhaps Russia believes that it can break the resolve of the Ukrainian people, but I know from the way you fought for the past few years, and from my visit here, that it cannot,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv

“My visits to the sites of these atrocities this morning, and my meeting here in Kyiv, has confirmed to me that Russia will not succeed, and Russia cannot be allowed to succeed.

“This is the 21st century and the idea that national boundaries can be changed by violence, or the democratically elected governments can be overthrown by foreign invasion, must perish.

“We need to make sure that Ukraine succeeds, that it wins this war, so that no other country gets attacked.

“If Russia thinks that targeting civilians and essential infrastructure will discourage Ukraine’s friends, including Ireland, well, it’s wrong.

“Volodymyr Zelensky, we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine will prevail and Ukraine will be rebuilt.”

Mr Varadkar also reiterated Ireland’s support for Ukraine’s accession to the EU and called for the process to start before the end of the year.

He also committed in taking a lead role to set up international tribunals to prosecute crimes committed in Ukraine and to assist in efforts to de-mine areas.

He made clear that while Ireland was militarily neutral it was not politically neutral, and announced an additional five million euro in humanitarian funding to help respond to the attack on the Kakhoka dam and other areas.

Mr Zelensky thanked the people of Ireland for taking in tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion began.

“I, first of all, would like to extend words of gratitude to you and to the whole people of Ireland for hosting our nationals in Ireland. This is a significant moral support to our nation,” he said.

“You’ve hosted 86,000 Ukrainian citizens, you’ve provided them with accommodation, with funding, with access to education and health support, this is very important.”

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