A Ukrainian selected to run in EU elections on the ballot in Latvia told AFP on Monday she was “thrilled” to be chosen to represent a country that stands so closely by Kyiv.
“This is really an honour,” Ivanna Volochii, 42, said after Latvia’s centrist Movement For! party selected her to lead its list vying for the nine seats Latvia will have in the next European Parliament.
Volochii, who is registered in Latvia and has an address there, also holds Belgian citizenship, making her eligible to run in the elections, which take place across the European Union between June 6 and June 9. In Latvia, voting will happen on June 8.
She has worked for EU institutions over the past 14 years, and is currently a social media community manager for the Renew grouping in the European Parliament, to which Movement For! belongs.
She said she would be taking unpaid leave when election campaigning kicks off in May.
Movement For!, though, is polling a meagre two to three percent in Latvia voter surveys.
The frontrunners are the liberal New Unity party, led by former prime minister Krisjanis Karins, and the centre-to-centre-right Union of Green and Farmers.
Volochii, however, can count on widespread sympathy in Latvia -- a Baltic nation bordering Russia and Belarus -- for Ukraine as it fights off Moscow’s full-on invasion.
“I’m thrilled, to say the least, because in Latvia the people can understand us, without the need to explain to them what we are going through,” she said.
“It’s probably one of the few countries that still have (Ukrainian) flags everywhere,” she said.
If elected, Volochii would technically not be the first Ukrainian to sit in the European Parliament.
A Hungarian lawmaker with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rightwing Fidesz party, Andrea Bocskor, also has Ukrainian nationality.
Orban and his Fidesz party had for weeks held up 50 billion euros in EU aid to Ukraine, until Orban ceded on the issue last week.
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