The National (Scotland)

Ukrainian refugee’s story captured in song


THE plight of a Ukranian refugee who fled her home with nothing but a plastic bag containing her possession­s has been encapsulat­ed in music to mark the first anniversar­y of the Russian invasion.

The compositio­n, named after the refugee, is the work of Glasgow-based singersong­writer Robert Severin whose own family history inspired him to tell the story of 63-year-old Elena who sought refuge after Russia invaded Ukraine on last year.

The lyrics were written by

Dutch poet Linda de Bruijn, who was moved to write about Elena’s story after hearing about her experience­s from friends that had sponsored her settlement in the Netherland­s.

“When Linda showed me her lyrics, I knew I had set them to music, and the melody came very quickly,” said Severin. “The subject resonates so strongly with me because my parents were also refugees – they fled Hungary when the Soviet Union invaded the country after the uprising in November 1956. They made their separate ways out of

Hungary, meeting at a refugee centre in West Linton in the Scottish Borders in midDecembe­r 1956 and married three weeks later. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with no justificat­ion is indefensib­le. I wanted to record this single to protest against the tragedy and suffering of the innocent caused by the horrors of war.”

Severin’s debut album Postcard From Budapest explored the legacy of his Hungarian heritage and its connection­s to Scotland.

Elena will be available to download and stream on the one-year anniversar­y of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Also marking the anniversar­y will be a protest in Glasgow’s George Square organised by the Glasgow branch of the Associatio­n of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB). Founded in 1946 by Ukrainians who came to Great Britain at the end of the Second World War, the AUGB is the largest representa­tive body for Ukrainians and those of Ukrainian descent in the UK.

The Glasgow branch said it was holding the demonstrat­ion

“to highlight the ongoing brutality perpetrate­d by Russia against our peaceful and democratic nation”.

In Edinburgh on Friday, a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at Edinburgh Council and the City War Memorial on the Royal Mile. Other Scottish cities are also expected to hold wreath-laying events and church services.

A march is also to be held in Edinburgh on Saturday from the Castle to the Parliament where there will be a special debate on Thursday to mark the anniversar­y of the invasion.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom