Residents of Boris Johnson Street in Ukraine sing PM’s praises

With its rows of well-kept homes and middle-aged couples out walking their dogs, the beach resort of Fontanka is Ukraine’s answer to Bexhill-on-Sea or Bognor Regis.

Just two things stand out – the distant thump of naval guns out in the Black Sea and a street named after a man regarded locally as one of history’s great leaders.

Mikhail Gorbachev Street, perhaps? No. Stalin Avenue? Scrapped years ago. Here’s a clue: he has more hair than Nikita Khrushchev, and like Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, was once something of a comedian.

Boris Johnson Street – or вулиця Бориса Джонсона, as the sign will read when it goes up – was named by Fontanka town council two weeks ago in thanks for Britain’s military support in Ukraine’s war with Russia.

The Prime Minister may have his critics at home. But just as Tony Blair is feted in Kosovo, and George W Bush is a hero in Iraqi Kurdistan, here in Ukraine he is hailed as a champion in a liberation struggle.

So much so that when he prepared to make an online speech to the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday, Boris Johnson Street’s residents responded in a manner all too rare among jaded British voters.

First, they made no snide mention of “partygate” or fixed penalty notices. And secondly, they were actually keen to hear what he had to say.

“I heard that your Prime Minister’s speech was coming up, and yes, I certainly want to listen,” Alex Lerner, 62, told The Telegraph. “He is a very strong and clever and brave man. It is wonderful that this street has been named after him, as it is important for us Ukrainians to know not just our own heroes, but those from overseas who helped our country.”


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