Second Ukrainian interpreter weeps during European Parliament address

The emotional toll of war is not an easy one to bear for anyone involved. And that includes the language professionals working with European governments and news organizations. A second Ukrainian interpreter, this time translating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s European Parliament address into English, went viral on social media today after the powerful words left him in tears.

The moment comes on the heels of another viral moment that saw Ukrainian-German interpreter Dr. Kateryna Rietz-Rakul in tears as she interpreted a Zelensky press conference. 

Zelensky’s European Parliament address coincided with the Russian bombing of Freedom Square, a cultural center in the northeastern city Kharkiv. In the viral clip, the interpreter, who remains unnamed, is heard to struggle with tears as he describes the devastation of the largest square in Europe.  

“This morning, two cruise missiles hit this Freedom Square,” the interpreter said. “Dozens [were] killed. This is the price of freedom. We are fighting, just for our land. And for our freedom. Despite the fact that all the cities of our country are now blocked.” 

Throughout the speech, Zelensky reaffirmed the Ukrainian willingness to fight to the end for their nation’s independence. The defiance of Russian aggression comes almost a week into the invasion, during which the Ukrainians shocked the world with the fierceness and effectiveness of their nation’s defense. 

It’s hardly surprising, then, that emotions run high as the nation continues to fight. Last weekend, Rietz-Rakul experienced a similar wave of tears as she interpreted a Zelensky press conference into German. Forcing back sobs as the Ukrainian president said, “Glory to Ukraine,” Rietz-Rakul later followed up on Twitter after the moment went viral. 

“I’m a conference interpreter, I interpret 10 hrs peace talks. But today live on German TV I couldn’t finish interpreting Zelensky, during his last words I broke into tears,” she wrote. “I love you all, my fellow Ukrainians.”

MultiLingual Live will host a conversation with Rietz-Rakul tonight at 10:15 p.m. Pacific Time that will stream live on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We invite everyone to join us.

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Cameron Rasmusson
Cameron Rasmusson is a writer and journalist. His first job out of the University of Montana School of Journalism took him to Sandpoint, Idaho as a staff writer for the Bonner County Daily Bee. Since 2010 he's honed his skills as a writer and reporter, joining the MultiLingual staff as Editor-in-Chief in 2021.

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