In his 15-minute speech to the Portuguese parliament on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky compared Putin’s regime to the fascist dictator Antonio Salazar’s, a few days before the 25th of April celebrations marking 48 years of freedom in Portugal. Zelensky compared the fight for freedom of the Portuguese people in 1974 to that of the Ukrainians in 2022, stating “you know what we are feeling”.
In his classic green t-shirt and with a Ukrainian flag in the background, Zelensky described horrific Russian war crimes and asked Portugal for more weapons and sanctions, as well as humanitarian aid. Zelensky said Russian troops continue to bomb houses, supermarkets, schools, universities, and churches. He stated that in Mariupol, “a city as large as Lisbon”, “not one home was left intact”. Zelensky stated that over 500,000 Ukrainians have been captured and deported, “a number twice as large as the population of Porto“.
Zelensky called upon Portuguese companies working in Russia to stop doing so. He also asked the Portuguese parliament for “simple things”, as he stated, asking for “weapons so that we can defend ourselves strongly”.
The Ukrainian president alerted the parliament that after Ukraine, Russia will try to also invade Moldovia, Georgia, and Baltic countries, urging Portugal to help Ukraine become a European Union member state.
While most in parliament applauded the Ukrainian president at the end of the speech for 60 seconds, including President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, most of the government ministers, including Prime Minister Antonio Costa did not. This caused an uproar on social media, however, this is parliamentary tradition.
— António Costa (@antoniocostapm) April 21, 2022
Tweet translation: Each day of war is another day of unbearable pain. The words we heard today by the president of Ukraine in parliament have shaken us.
There were six seats empty – those of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) who refused to witness the speech. Paula Santos from the PCP justified this previously: “…Volodymyr Zelensky that personifies a xenophobic and belligerent power, surrounded and sustained by forces of a fascist and neonazi nature, including of a paramilitary nature, such as the Azov Batallion”. In March, Zelensky banned all remaining left-wing parties in Ukraine, including socialist and communist parties.