Initiator of Afghan War veterans’ protest “advised” to leave the country

Pressure is being placed on Oleksandr Kovalyov who initiated the memorable protest on 15 February when around 200 Afghanistan War veterans deliberately snubbed President Yanukovych and other public officials by demonstratively turning their back on them.

As reported at the time, although both the veterans and the dignitaries were there to mark the 23rd anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet soldiers from Afghanistan, the veterans were forced to wait hours (in very cold conditions) until the dignitaries finally arrived, laid their flowers and left. 

Oleksandr Kovalyov, leader of the national Afghanistan War Veteran organization “Nobody but Us”, which also initiated the September protests outside parliament over reduced social benefits, has told UNIAN that police officers advised him to leave the country.

“A day after the flower laying and our organization’s act, the tax police turned up at the company which I was until recently co-founder of. They carried out five searches. I was warned that a command had been given from the very top to close all business structures if their founders are connected with “Nobody but Us” and could support the organization”.

Mr Kovalyov says that two other business owners, including from the Donetsk region, who support the organization have been summoned to the police and “given strict prophylactic measures, in fact, threatened”.

“I was also told that the MIA has been given the command to look for any information which would compromise me. Today I was told directly by old acquaintances working in the MIA that it would be better for me to leave the country”

He asserts that a car is permanently following those who come out of the organization’s office in Kyiv that photographs are taken and their phones tapped.

He is convinced that the pressure is aimed at crushing the Afghanistan War veterans’ movement in Ukraine.

On 15 August, the Deputy Head of “Nobody but Us”, Volodymyr Serdyuk stated that the members of his organization had turned their back on those in power who had long turned their backs on the veterans.

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