Ukrainian teenager, 17, abandons battle for UK visa due to red tape

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Viktoria Koval, a 17-year-old law student, had been trying to find refuge with family friends in the UK since March, just after the war began. Now, despite a lethal missile strike 30 yards from her home last week, she has decided she would rather risk the perils of war than deal with Britain’s “layer after layer of bureaucracy”.

As a minor unaccompanied by a guardian or family member she has been barred from getting a visa to live in the UK. The ongoing uncertainty over her future left the teenager in limbo and she will now remain with her family in Ukraine.

The Sunday Express has been campaigning for the Government to grant a visa to Viktoria and the hundreds of other unaccompanied Ukrainian minors who have been offered safe homes in the

UK. On Monday, the Government finally gave the green light to the plan but decisions on individual applications have syet to be made.

The wait proved too much for Viktoria, who will now continue studying law at the University of Kyiv near her home inVinnytsia. It comes as a missile killed 20 and injured 90 people near her home on Thursday.

Viktoria was hoping to live with the Kilgour family in Devon. She had stayed with them previously on a series of language exchange schemes.

Rev Jenny Kilgour said: “Every time we met one set of government criteria, another popped up. We had layer after layer of bureaucracy. Her family must have felt the UK didn’t want her here.”

She added: “We completed everything that was asked of us. She has a place at Kyiv University where she is doing a law degree. I have no doubt she wanted to come here where it was safe and would have if she had a visa in her hand.

“I was beyond disappointed to hear she has given up trying to come.

“But, understandably, she now just wants to get on with her life.”

New rules mean children fleeing the war who had already applied to the Homes for Ukraine scheme will now be allowed to come into the country alone.

Local authorities will be expected to carry out “extensive sponsor checks” ahead of any visa being granted, with councils “able to veto any sponsor arrangements they deem unsuitable”.

The Government said: “It is tragic that children have been caught up in Putin’s war. We understand families are having to make difficult decisions to separate from their children where it is in their best interest, which is why we have extended the Homes for Ukraine scheme to allow this.

“It is important we took the time to get this right… to find a solution to ensure we can continue offering safety to as many Ukrainians as possible while welcoming more children into the UK.”

Captive Brit made to sing Russian anthem

A captured British fighter sentenced to death in a pro-Putin rogue state is forced to sing the Russian national anthem for TV.

A video shows care worker Aiden Aslin, 28, right, being made to sing by US exile John Mark Dougan, who now works for Russian propaganda outfit Sputnik International.

Mr Aslin and Shaun Pinner, 48, have been sentenced to execution by firing squad by the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.

Another Briton, John Harding, is also made to utter “last words” to his daughter.

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