By Andy Hirst

Huddersfield Rugby Union Club’s president elect says Putin’s invasion of Ukraine mirrors the horrors Stalin inflicted on the country in the 1930s.

Bohdan Santar spoke out after the club, based at Lockwood Park in Huddersfield, raised £1,500 for the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal with a collection and raffle among the spectators at its National 2 North home game against Loughborough Students.

Bohdan said: “My family was from the west of the country and I still have relatives living there. The developments in the east have concerned me for years and I have long feared a Russian invasion.

“Back in the early 1930s under Soviet occupation and Stalin’s dictatorship, millions of Ukrainians were starved to death or displaced during what became known as the terror famine or Holodomor. The recent occupation of Crimea and subsequent invasion echoes that past.

“The fact that Putin’s takeover of Crimea was met with only modest opposition from the western powers emboldened him to push on.

“However, his assertion that there is an appetite for affiliation with Russia in Ukraine is ridiculous. He talks of a separatist movement in the Donbas area in the east but the problems there stem from Russian infiltration. Russia is intent on eliminating the independence of Ukraine and denying its citizens democracy and freedom.”

Bohdan Santar – Huddersfield Rugby Union’s president elect

Bohdan also said Russian had shown its horrendous attitude to human life eight years ago, adding: “I would remind people that back in 2014, when the present crisis was in its infancy, 298 passengers and crew were killed when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over the region by a Russian missile.”

Bohdan says he is amazed at the huge support the world is now showing Ukraine.

He added: “I’ve been heartened by the support of decent people throughout the world for the people of Ukraine and I’m proud of the efforts made by all at the rugby club.

“The actions taken in Ukraine by Putin are appalling and I feel sorry for the ordinary folk of Russia where opposition to his dreadful conduct is simply being suppressed. The brutal war Putin has inflicted on a peaceful neighbour, creating misery  for millions, will not be forgotten or forgiven.”

READ MORE: Proud Ukrainian man’s powerful and emotional speech at meeting of Kirklees Council

He revealed that the family ended up in Huddersfield after his father suffered dreadfully during World War Two.

He said: “My father was Ukrainian and experienced at first hand the horrors of war. In World War Two he was forcibly conscripted into the Soviet army when they overran the country. He was just 16 years old.

“He was captured by the Germans and transported to Belgium to work in the coal mines where he remained until the country was liberated by the Allies. At the end of the war, along with many of his compatriots, he came to the UK and started a new life here in Yorkshire.”

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.