War in Ukraine: Russian strikes in Zaporizhia, message from the Pope… The daybreak

This handout picture taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential Chief of Staff, Andriy Yermak on April 9, 2023, shows a destroyed house after a strike in the city of Zaporizhzhia, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CHIEF OF STAFF ANDRIY YERMAK - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Two people were killed after a deadly Russian strike on their home in Zaporizhia, in southeastern Ukraine, this Sunday, April 9, 2023. On Easter, Pope Francis granted his traditional message a special place in the conflict. Here’s what to remember.

Father and daughter killed by Russian strikes in Zaporizhia

Ukrainian officials said a 50-year-old man and his 11-year-old daughter were killed when Russian airstrikes hit their home in Zaporizhia in southeastern Ukraine on Sunday.

“The enemy carried out a missile attack on Zaporizhia and killed another Ukrainian family ,” the country’s emergency service chief Sergei Kruk said on social media. The girl died while being transported by ambulance, said the city’s mayor, Anatolii Kurtiev.

Rescuers pulled her 46-year-old mother alive from the rubble. Emergency services said that the couple’s eldest daughter was not home when the strikes occurred overnight.

According to the mayor of Zaporijia, two missiles fired by Russia hit a residential area, damaging the windows and roofs of a dozen homes.

The Zaporizhia region is one of four Ukrainian provinces Moscow claimed to be annexed after the Russian offensive launched in February 2022.

The Pope’s Message for Easter

On the occasion of his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing for the feast of Easter, Pope Francis condemned the many “stumbling blocks” to peace in the world.

After expressing his “deep concern” about the Middle East, the pope also gave a special place in his message about the Ukraine war.

“Comfort the wounded and those who have lost loved ones due to war and make sure that prisoners can return safe and sound to their families,” he declared in front of some 100,000 faithful massed in Saint Peter’s Square. At the Vatican, they call on the international community to “put an end to this war and to all the conflicts that bloody the world.”

Georgia: thousands demonstrate against the government

Thousands of opposition supporters gathered outside parliament on Sunday in Tbilisi, Georgia, amid growing criticism of the government, accused of pro-Russian authoritarian drift.

At the call of the main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), founded by the imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, the demonstrators waved Georgian, Ukrainian, and European Union (EU) flags behind a large banner “For a European future.”

The demonstrators demand the “release of political prisoners and the implementation of the reforms” wanted by the EU to grant Tbilisi the status of candidate for membership, launched the president of the UNM, Levan Khabeichvili.

The government of the ruling Georgian Dream party is accused of imprisoning opponents, silencing independent media, secretly collaborating with the Kremlin, and seeking to hijack the country from the EU.

Under pressure from massive protests, the government backed away from a Russian-inspired bill to classify as “foreign agents” NGOs and media receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroa last month.

Along with Ukraine and Moldova, Georgia applied for EU membership days after the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory started in late February 2022. In June, the EU granted Kyiv official candidate status and Chisinau but asked Tbilisi to implement reforms first.