Olena Zelenska Declines Biden Speech Invitation, Citing Concerns Over Seating Next to Yulia Navalnaya

Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, has chosen not to attend US President Joe Biden’s upcoming speech before the Senate and House of Representatives on March 7.

The decision comes as an invitation had been extended for Zelenska to sit next to US First Lady Jill Biden and Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, who is listed as a terrorist and extremist.

Discomfort Surrounding Yulia Navalnaya’s Presence

The potential presence of Yulia Navalnaya, a controversial figure due to her association with Alexei Navalny, caused discomfort among Ukrainians, as reported by The Washington Post.

The seating arrangement, which included Zelenska sitting alongside Jill Biden and Yulia Navalnaya, raised concerns and led to Zelenska’s decision not to attend the event.

White House’s Lack of Informing Kyiv

The Washington Post reported that the White House might not have informed Kyiv about Yulia Navalnaya’s decision not to attend the event, contributing to the overall discomfort among Ukrainians.

The lack of communication regarding Navalnaya’s absence may have played a role in Zelenska’s decision.

White House’s Response and Possible Reasons

A spokesperson from the White House addressed Zelenska’s decision, suggesting that it could be due to schedule inconsistencies, as the seating plan for guests was recently finalized.

Additionally, a source among US officials hinted that the Ukrainian administration might have declined the invitation to avoid being closely associated with President Biden.

Alexei Navalny’s Views on Crimea

The controversy surrounding Yulia Navalnaya is rooted in her late husband Alexei Navalny’s stance on Crimea.

In 2014, Navalny recognized Crimea as part of Russia and expressed confidence that the peninsula would remain within the Russian Federation.

His views, including advising Ukrainians to accept the reality, have caused tensions and further complicated the seating dynamics at the upcoming event.

Navalny’s Assertion on Crimea’s Status

Navalny’s assertion in 2014 emphasized that Crimea was now part of the Russian Federation, urging Ukrainians not to delude themselves about its return to Ukraine.

He firmly stated that even in the event of his victory in the Russian presidential election, Crimea would remain with Russia, emphasizing that it was not a matter to be tossed back and forth like a mere object.

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