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INTERVIEW/Bucha mayor thanks Taiwan for help, pitches investment there

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Bucha Mayor Anatolii Fedoruk speaks to CNA in a interview on Tuesday.

 Anatolii Fedoruk, the visiting mayor of Bucha in northern Ukraine, thanked Taiwan on Tuesday for its support of his city amid Russia's invasion and pitched Taiwanese entities on the idea of investing in his government's planned industrial park.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the city of Bucha has been able to build friendly relations with different parts of the world that have offered help to rebuild the city, including Taiwan, Fedoruk told CNA during an interview.

He praised Taiwan's donations of supplies soon after the invasion took place that he said were critical for the survival of Bucha's community.

"That is why I am grateful to the people of Taiwan for the help we received, which you gave us at the most important moment for our city. I express my greatest gratitude," he said via an interpreter.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the government helped Bucha renovate 11 shelters, one kindergarten and nine houses in April 2022, benefiting more than 1,000 Ukrainian households.

It also donated US$600,000 to the city in August 2023 for the construction of an air raid shelter and a children's school.

Bucha was the site of some of the Russian military's worst butchery during the early stages of its invasion, when it occupied the town while pushing its offensive to take over Ukraine's capital Kyiv.

Photographic and video evidence of the massacre of civilians emerged on April 1, 2022 after Russian forces withdrew from the city.

According to local authorities, 458 bodies have been recovered from the town, including nine children under the age of 18. Among the victims, 419 people were killed with weapons and 39 appeared to have died of natural causes, possibly related to the occupation.

Russian authorities, however, have denied responsibility and instead claimed that Ukraine faked footage of the event or staged the killings itself as a false flag operation, and have claimed that the footage and photographs of dead bodies were a "staged performance."

Commenting on the latest status of the city's ongoing rebuild, Fedoruk told CNA that the Russians had damaged more than 4,000 "objects" to varying degrees during their invasion, of which around 60 percent have been repaired and restored.

He did not specify what he meant by "objects," and if they included buildings.

The mayor arrived in Taiwan for a four-day visit starting Saturday that was scheduled to conclude later Tuesday, with the aim of attracting investment in construction projects planned by the city.

He previously visited South Korea before flying to Taipei.

Fedoruk's delegation was looking to attract investment in the planned construction of an industrial park in the city, which is about 30 kilometers northwest of Kyiv.

During the delegation's four days in Taiwan, it visited the Hsinchu Science Park, the Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and the Taipei Computer Association.

According to the mayor, now is the perfect time to invest in Butcha and Ukraine as a whole.

"It seems strange but right now it's time to invest in such projects," he said.

Ukrainians have to be economically active to have the opportunity to not only provide supplies to the country's military that are needed for victory but also take care of the country's citizens, he said.

Bucha is proposing a Bucha Techno Garden, a planned industrial zone of more than 32,000 hectares, that will offer a home to producers of information and communication electrics, computers, microcircuits, high-tech machinery and even defense products, the mayor said.

The planned zone will also have an airport, the Antonov Airport, that will be turned into a transportation and cargo bub, he said.

Fedoruk's visit was the first by a local government leader from Ukraine to Taiwan since the outbreak of the war, according to MOFA.

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