Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and Kyiv's mayor Vitali Klitschko are most worthy of Edinburgh's Freedom of the City award – Steve Cardownie

On my last visit to Kyiv a few years ago, I had the privilege of being asked to the Mayor’s office to talk about the conflict in the east of Ukraine and its impact, or the lack of one, on Kyiv.

Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer turned politician, towered above me as he extended his shovel of a hand to welcome me and offered me a refreshment.

He was at pains to point out that, regrettably, his country was embroiled in military action with Russian separatists on the border with Russia to the east, but Kyiv was untouched and it was very much business as usual.

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He told me that tourists were more than welcome and that they could look forward to a safe and interesting time in his capital.

I was taken by his laid back, confident attitude and he made it obvious that he loved Kyiv and wanted it to prosper.

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Who is... Volodymyr Zelensky?
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Tomorrow, the Edinburgh City Council will award Vitali and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Freedom of the City which is richly deserved.

These two men have not abandoned their posts – despite offers to do so – and have remained in the country as Russian forces continue to bombard Ukrainian cities.

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Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, right, and his brother Wladimir Klitschko visit a check-point on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital (Picture: Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)

Vitali Klitschko won 15 world title fights as a heavyweight boxer. Now retired, Kyiv could not have a better man in its corner.

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I have no doubt that the proposition will be carried unanimously at tomorrow's council meeting. He and President Zelensky are welcome additions to Edinburgh's roll of honour.

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