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Crowds gather in "city of peace and reconciliation" to mark a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. money

Solidarity in Coventry on Ukrainian war anniversary

Candles flickered gently while Ukrainian prayers and music filled the evening air on a night of reflection, solidarity and hope in Coventry.

Known as a "city of peace and reconciliation", Coventry staged a special vigil to mark the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war in the ruins of the city's cathedral on Friday evening.

There was a procession from the Lower Precinct in the city centre to the cathedral ruins ahead of the service.

Earlier on Friday, a special service was held at the city's Ukrainian Catholic Church.

"It was an honour for us to gather with Coventry's Ukrainian community to mark the first anniversary of the invasion of their country," Canon Mary Gregory said.

"The vigil gave us an opportunity to acknowledge the terrible pain and loss of the last year, to remember those who have died, and to pray for those in danger.

"It also allowed us to look forward in hope to a better, more peaceful future."

Mario Kosmirak, chairman of Coventry's Ukrainian community, said: "It's with sadness we remember the victims, but with hope that we expect one day this will come to an end and Ukraine will still be a sovereign state - and one day people will be able to return to their country."

He added: "We didn't know what to expect a year ago, it was just devastating what we heard.

"We're very proud that the Ukrainian army has fought strongly and very grateful to the western and British governments for providing support, providing humanitarian support, providing military aid for Ukraine to defend itself.

"But at the end of the day people are still losing their lives and Ukraine needs more support."

The morning service was led by the Very Rev David Senyk, whose father was born in Ukraine, and Fr Taras Dovbeniuk, from the Ukrainian Church.

Both men were joined by Dean of Coventry, the Very Rev John Witcombe for the evening event.

"Here I am in the West, and a year ago I heard about the war over the radio, just like everybody else," said Very Rev Senyk.

"It was worrying then. Is it going to be a repeat of the Second World War? Obviously I knew about the atrocities then from my father.

"Today it really was just about holding it together because it's very meaningful and personal. And it's personal to every one of us here."

Events were held across the West Midlands to mark the anniversary. Among the buildings to be lit up were Dudley Council House and the bell tower in Evesham, Worcestershire, while there were also services in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

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