Ukrainian President urges Switzerland to help sanction oligarchs in live address
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has called on Switzerland to take a stronger role in combating the Russian invasion of his country. In a live address to the people of Switzerland, he said that alongside sanctions, Russians with assets in Swiss banks and those who have residence in the country should also be targeted.
Thousands march across Switzerland in support of Ukraine
The comments came at an event over the weekend in Bern, where thousands marched in support of Ukraine and against the Russian state’s invasion. The president addressed the crowd via live-stream - one of the many times he has addressed the western world via video link.
The president said that Switzerland must take a stronger stance on Russian oligarchs, accusing them of helping to wage war on his country while enjoying the benefits of “beautiful” Switzerland. "It would be fair to deprive them of this privilege,” he said.
Zelenskyy wants Ukrainians to live like the Swiss
He stated that he wanted Ukrainians to live like the Swiss, noting that he had been to Switzerland many times and was impressed by the high standards of living and the freedoms the country provides. He asserted that he "also wants you [the Swiss] to be and become like the Ukrainians, in the fight against evil. So that there is no question about banks... about your [Swiss] banks: where the money of all those who started this war is kept."
Russian individuals and companies hold an estimated 213 billion dollars worth of assets in Swiss banks - according to Reuters - which Zelenskyy says is funding the “evil” actions of Vladimir Putin.
He called on Swiss international companies and the government to freeze all Russian assets and cease operations in Russia. Zelenskyy said that “It's a big fight, and you can do it," and, in perfect German, he concluded by saying "thank you for supporting our struggle for freedom and peace."
Swiss government stands in solidarity with Ukraine
In response, the Mayor of Bern, Alec von Graffenried, said that the de-facto capital stood in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, especially places which have been attacked or are under siege. He invited the crowd to sing anti-war songs, emphasising that, "War does not belong in our world, we are against war!"
President Ignazio Cassis, who was also at the rally, said that "this multitude, dear Volodymyr, wants to show you that your people are not alone.” The president of Switzerland added that, “We are impressed by the courage with which you fight for democracy, freedom and peace. We are all impressed by the unity with which you oppose Russia. But above all, we are impressed by the way you defend the fundamental values of freedom, which are also our fundamental values."